Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a type of blood cancer. The disease is quite rare in adults and affects mostly children.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphoid leukemia, OL) is a type of leukemia, which begins with an abnormal distribution of white blood cells in the bone marrow.
This type of leukemia develops from cells that are called lymphocytes and are responsible for the work of the immune system, or from lymphoblasts, immature lymphocytes.
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia can spread to other parts of the body and organs, such as the liver, spleen or lymph nodes. However, as a rule, it does not form a tumor, as it happens with other types of cancer.
The acute type of leukemia can develop quite quickly. Without proper treatment, the result may be lethal for several months.
The prognosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia depends on several factors:
- From the young age - young patients tend to have more favorable prognosis;
- From the results of laboratory studies: the forecast will be more favorable in the presence of fewer white blood cells;
- From the subtype of leukemia (B-cell or T-cell);
- On whether the patient has a chromosomal abnormality, the so-called Ph-chromosome (if it is, then the prognosis is less favorable);
- From individual susceptibility to chemotherapy (the prognosis is favorable if the patient does not have symptoms for four to five weeks after starting treatment).
In most cases, the cause of leukemia remains unknown. Therefore, there are currently no ways to prevent this disease.
However, there are several factors that can provoke this type of leukemia:
- The effect of high doses of radiation in the treatment of other types of cancer;
- The impact of certain chemicals (benzene, solvents used in refineries and other industries, and also present in cigarette smoke, in some detergents and solutions for removing paint);
- Infection with HTLV-1 virus (T-type lymphotropic virus type 1) in T-cell lymphoma (leukemia) or Epstein-Barr virus;
- Hereditary genetic syndrome, such as Down syndrome;
- The sex and color of the patient's skin (the diseases are mostly prevalent in men with light skin).
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia may manifest itself as fatigue, fever, loss of appetite and weight, night sweats.
Many symptoms of ALL are the result of a lack of erythrocytes, which occurs due to displacement of leukemic cells of red blood cells in the bone marrow. Lack of erythrocytes can also cause symptoms of anemia: dizziness, shortness of breath, and arousal.
Lack of leukocytes may be the cause of fever and secondary infections. Lack of thrombocytes provokes the appearance of multiple hematomas, nasal bleeding, causes bleeding gums and other bleeding.
Depending on where the leukemic cells are located, other symptoms may occur:
- Tight or bloated abdomen in the liver or spleen region;
- Enlarged lymph nodes in the area of the neck or groin, in the axillary region or over the collarbone;
- Pain in the bones or joints;
- Headache, loss of balance, vomiting, epileptic seizures, obscure vision - in the event that the cancer has spread to the brain;
- Difficulty breathing if the cancer is localized in the thoracic region.