Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

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Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a rapid and aggressive cancer of the white blood cells. It is a rare type of cancer as only 650 people in the UK on average are diagnosed with it each year. This type of leukemia is the most common type of childhood leukemia[1] .


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is cause by a mutation the stem cells[1], causing them to overproduce immature white blood cells, called lymphoblasts. These lymphoblasts crowd the bone marrow meaning that the stem cells are unable to produce normal blood cells[2].  As the number of blast cells increase, the number of red blood cells and platelet cells decrease[1]


- Tiredness and breathlessness

- Frequent infections due to the lymphoblasts being less effective than normal white blood cells at fighting off infection

- Pale skin

- Frequent infections

- Nosebleeds

-Night sweats

- Bone and joint pain

- Weight loss 

- Abdominal pain due to the liver or the spleen swelling 


Risk factors

- Previous chemotherapy

- Smoking 

- Overweight

- HIV and AIDS



There are three stages to the treatment of Acute lymphoblastic leukemia:

1. Induction. This is where the leukemia cells in your bone marrow are destroyed. 

2. Consolidation. This aims to kill any leukemia cells in your CNS. 

3. Maintenance. This is where you have regular doses of chemotherapy tablets to prevents leukemia returning. 





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