Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) in children is a type of blood cancer that starts from young white blood cells called lymphocytes in the bone marrow. It is the most common type of cancer in children.

In ALL, the bone marrow makes too many of these lymphocytes and they are not normal. They do not grow and develop properly and they can’t fight infections in the way they should. As they increase in number, they crowd out the normal, healthy cells in the bone marrow so there are not enough to produce the amount of red blood cells and platelets the body needs.

Symptoms may include fatigue, weakness, pale skin, bleeding or bruising easily, fever, bone pain, weight loss, and other symptoms. It’s important to note that these symptoms may also be caused by conditions other than leukaemia.

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Treatment for ALL in children usually involves chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplant. The exact treatment will depend on several factors, including the child’s overall health, the subtype of ALL, and others.

The prognosis of ALL in children has improved significantly over the past few decades, with a survival rate now over 85%. However, long-term side effects of treatment are possible, and ongoing follow-up care is important.

Always seek professional medical advice for diagnosis and treatments.

Causes of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of cancer in children. It’s a severe condition occurring when the body produces too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. The specific cause of ALL remains unclear, but various factors are associated with its development:

1. Genetic Factors: Certain genetic disorders like Down syndrome can increase the risk of developing ALL.

2. Previous Cancer Treatment: Children who’ve undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy for other types of cancer may have an increased risk of developing ALL.

3. Exposure to Radiation: Exposure to high levels of radiation can increase the risk, though this accounts for a very small percentage of cases.

4. Siblings with Leukemia: Children who have siblings, including twins, with leukemia are at a higher risk.

5. Immune System Suppression: Immunosuppressive drugs, often given to organ transplant recipients to prevent rejection, can increase the risk of ALL.

6. Age: While ALL can occur at any age, there is a higher risk in children under 5 years old.

Remember, having these risk factors doesn’t guarantee that a child will develop ALL, instead, it only increases the likelihood. It’s also important to note most children with ALL do not have any of these risk factors. The exact causes why some children develop the disease are still not fully known.

Risk Factors of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

1. Genetic Disorders: Certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, neurofibromatosis type 1, Fanconi anemia, Ataxia telangiectasia, Bloom syndrome, and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, increase the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

2. Family History: Having a sibling, particularly a twin, with ALL increases the risk.

3. Age: While ALL can occur at any age, it is most common in children aged 2 to 5.

4. Sex: Males are slightly more at risk to develop ALL than females.

5. Race/Ethnicity: Caucasians are more likely to develop ALL compared to other races/ethnicities.

6. Exposure to Radiation: Exposure to high levels of radiation (such as radiation therapy for a different type of cancer or exposure due to a nuclear incident) can increase the risk of ALL.

7. Certain Chemical Exposures: Exposure to certain chemicals—such as pesticides, certain chemicals used in the rubber industry, and certain chemotherapy drugs—may slightly increase the risk of developing ALL.

8. Immune System Suppression: Those who have suppressed immune systems, either due to diseases such as HIV/AIDS or due to immunosuppressive therapy (like after an organ transplant), may be at a slightly increased risk of developing ALL.

Please note that having one or more risk factors does not definitively mean a child will develop ALL. Many children with one or more risk factors never develop leukemia, while others who develop the disease have no known risk factors. It’s also important to note that most risk factors for ALL—like age and genetics—cannot be changed or prevented. If you’re worried about your child’s risk, please discuss this with their doctor.

Signs and Symptoms of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of cancer in children. The symptoms may vary from child to child, and some may appear like common childhood illnesses. It’s also worth mentioning that having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean a child has leukemia. Still, if they persist, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

The common signs and symptoms include:

1. Fever or Night sweats: Frequent or persistent fever can be one of the signs of ALL.

2. Fatigue or Pale Skin: Children may look pale or feel tired or weak because ALL can lead to anemia or a decrease in the number of healthy red blood cells.

3. Frequent Infections or Flu-like symptoms: ALL can reduce the number of healthy white blood cells that fight infections, making children more susceptible to infections.

4. Easy Bruising or Bleeding: This can include frequent nosebleeds, heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding in girls, bleeding gums or bloody stools. It happens because leukemia cells may reduce the production of platelets which assist in blood clotting.

5. Bone or Joint Pain: This may result from a build-up of leukemia cells near the surface of the bone or inside the joint.

6. Swollen Lymph Nodes: Some children might have swollen lymph nodes, often in the neck or armpit.

7. Abdominal Distress: Such as swelling or discomfort which could be the result of an enlarged spleen or liver.

8. Loss of Appetite and Weight Loss.

9. Difficulty Breathing: This can occur if leukemia cells gather in the thymus, a small organ located in the chest, or if leukemia invades the part of the bone marrow that produces red blood cells, which carry oxygen.

10. Unexplained Rashes or Small Spots On Skin: These look like red pinpoints and are caused by bleeding under the skin.

It’s always important to seek professional medical advice if your child is experiencing any of these symptoms consistently or if the symptoms are severe or unusual for your child.

Diagnosis Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) in children is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. ALL is the most common type of cancer in children, and treatments have resulted in a good chance for a cure.

In healthy conditions, lymphocytes are an essential part of the body’s immune system designed to fight off diseases and infections. However, in ALL, the lymphocytes are immature and do not function correctly. Over time, they accumulate and lead to symptoms by crowding out healthy cells in the bone marrow and spreading to other parts of the body.

Symptoms of ALL in children can include fatigue, easy bruising or bleeding, fever, loss of appetite, bone or joint pain, swelling in the abdomen, lymph nodes, or face, and breathlessness.

The exact cause of ALL is unknown, but certain genetic factors and previous chemotherapy or radiation therapy can increase the risk. Treatment typically involves chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells and preventative treatment to stop the disease from spreading to the brain and spinal cord. Some children may need intensive treatment, including stem cell transplant.

It’s essential to discuss with your doctor what the best treatment options are, as these may vary depending on the child’s overall health and the subtype of ALL. Fortunately, advances in treatment mean that the outlook for children with ALL can be positive, with most achieving a long-term cure.

Treatment of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) is the most common type of cancer in children. Here is a general outline of its treatment:

1. Induction Chemotherapy: This is the first phase of treatment. The aim is to kill the leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to induce remission. Drugs used in this phase often include a combination of vincristine, dexamethasone (or prednisone), asparaginase, and sometimes anthracyclines like daunorubicin.

2. Consolidation/Intensification Treatment: This phase is done after remission to kill any remaining leukemia cells that may not be active but could begin to regrow later. High-dose methotrexate and cytarabine are commonly used drugs in this phase.

3. Maintenance Therapy: This phase involves treatment with anti-cancer drugs to kill any remaining leukemia cells that may regrow and cause a relapse. It typically involves lower dosages of chemotherapy administered over a longer period, often up to two to three years. Methotrexate and mercaptopurine are commonly used in the maintenance phase.

4. Central Nervous System (CNS) Prophylaxis: Because standard chemotherapy drugs often cannot reach the CNS effectively, additional treatment is given to kill any cells that may have spread to the brain and spinal cord. This can be in the form of chemotherapy delivered directly to the CNS (intrathecal chemotherapy) or radiation therapy, although the latter is less commonly used in recent treatment protocols due to long-term side effects.

The treatment also includes supportive care with antibiotics, anti-nausea medications, pain medications, nutritional support, and blood transfusions when necessary.

In some cases, a stem cell transplant (also called bone marrow transplant) may be carried out, especially when the leukemia is aggressive, or if it comes back after standard treatment.

Remember, the treatment protocol can be tailored to each child’s needs and overall health status. The child’s healthcare team will also regularly monitor the child’s response to treatment and adjust the treatment plan accordingly. It’s important to note that while intensive, the majority of children with ALL do achieve remission with appropriate treatment.

Medications commonly used for Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, and it’s the most common type of cancer in children. Several medications are used in the treatment of ALL, and treatment is typically divided into several stages, including induction, consolidation/intensification, and maintenance.

1. Induction Therapy: This is the first phase of treatment intending to kill leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to induce remission. Medications used in this phase often include:
Corticosteroids such as Prednisone or Dexamethasone to kill leukemia cells.
Vincristine, which prevents leukemia cells from duplicating.
Anthracyclines such as Daunorubicin or Doxorubicin, which can damage the DNA of cancer cells.
Asparaginase which breaks down asparagine, an amino acid necessary for cancer cell growth.
Sometimes, a type of drug called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (like Imatinib) is used if the leukemia cells have a certain mutation.

2. Consolidation/Intensification Therapy: The aim of this phase is to kill any remaining leukemia cells that might be present and prevent them from causing a relapse. Medications used often include:
High-dose Methotrexate, which disrupts the growth of cancer cells.
Cytarabine, which impairs DNA synthesis in leukemia cells.
Etoposide and Cyclophosphamide may also be used in this stage.

3. Maintenance Therapy: This is the final phase of treatment and lasts the longest (about 2-3 years). It aims to kill any possibly remaining cancer cells. Medications often used include:
Methotrexate and 6-Mercaptopurine which interrupt cell growth.
Vincristine and a corticosteroid are also usually given for short periods during this phase.

These drugs can be given through the bloodstream or directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (intrathecal chemotherapy). The specific regimen can vary greatly depending on the risk group the child is categorized into (standard, high, very high), which is based on various factors like age, initial white blood cell count, and genetic changes in the leukemia cells. Treatments can include several of these drugs used together in different combinations.

Please, always consult with a healthcare professional or oncologist for treatment options as these medications also have side effects. The potential side effects depend on the specific medications used and the individual patient. They can range from nausea and vomiting, hair loss, mouth sores to more severe effects like infection, nerve damage, or other long-term effects. To effectively manage these, it’s crucial to discuss them with the healthcare team.

Prevention of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood. It’s the most common type of cancer in children. Most cases of ALL arise from non-inherited mutations (changes) in the genes of growing blood cells. Sometimes, these changes may be inherited, but in most cases the causes of these genetic changes remain unknown and cannot be prevented.

Though specific prevention for ALL is not known, there are several measures to reduce the risk and improve the health of the child:

1. Healthy Diet & Regular Exercise: Encourage children to eat a well-balanced diet and participate in regular physical activities for proper growth and development.

2. Avoid Radiation Exposure: If possible, avoid unnecessary exposure to high doses of radiation. For example, medical imaging methods, such as CT scans, use high radiation doses, and should only be used when absolutely necessary.

3. Limit Exposure to Chemicals: Exposure to chemicals like benzene (found in gasoline, rubber industry) etc. can increase the risk of ALL. Therefore, minimizing exposure to such chemicals can be beneficial.

4. Preventing Infections: Regular vaccinations and boosting the child’s immunity can also help lower the risk of infections that may lead to ALL.

5. Avoid Smoking during Pregnancy: Smoking by pregnant women increases the risk of a child developing ALL, thus avoiding smoking during pregnancy helps in prevention.

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6. Genetic Counseling: If you have family history of ALL or other related genetic disorders, consider genetic counseling to understand the risk of leukemia in your unborn child.

7. Regular Medical check-ups: Routine health check-ups allow early detection and better management of any potential health issues.

Remember, ALL itself can’t be prevented. But these tips can help to reduce the risk and provide a strong health foundation. Always, consult with your healthcare provider for a medical advice.

FAQ’s about Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from the young white blood cells in the bone marrow. It is the most common type of cancer and leukemia in children.

1. What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia in children?
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells. These cells are responsible for fighting infections in the body. In ALL, the bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

2. What are the symptoms of ALL in children?
Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, frequent infections, bruising or bleeding easily, bone or joint pain, loss of appetite, and swelling in the lymph nodes, liver, or spleen.

3. What are the causes and risk factors of ALL in children?
There are no specific known causes, but certain factors can increase the risk, including exposure to high levels of radiation, certain inherited syndromes, having a sibling with ALL, a history of certain blood disorders, and certain viral infections.

4. How is ALL diagnosed in children?
The doctor may order blood tests, bone marrow tests, lumbar puncture, lymph node biopsy, and imaging tests. These tests help to confirm the diagnosis and understand the extent of the condition.

5. What are the treatments available for ALL in children?
Treatments may include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, and supportive care.

6. What is the prognosis for children with ALL?
The prognosis for children with ALL has improved significantly over the years, thanks to advances in treatment. Many children with ALL are now surviving into adulthood. However, outcomes can vary widely depending on various factors like age at diagnosis, the subtype of ALL, and how well the child responds to treatment.

7. How can parents support their child with ALL?
Parents can help their child understand the condition, be active members of the treatment team, help manage side effects, maintain a sense of normalcy, and provide emotional support.

8. How can the long-term effects and complications of ALL be managed?
Long-term effects of treatment can include learning problems, growth and development issues, heart problems, and secondary cancers. Regular checkups and monitoring can help to identify these problems early and manage them effectively.

9. Can ALL relapse in children?
Yes, there is a chance of ALL relapse in some children, which means the disease has come back after it was in remission. This most often happens during or right after treatment, but it can also occur several months or even years later.

Remember, every child’s experience with ALL may be different. These are general frequently asked questions, and individual care plans may vary based on each child’s specific needs.

Useful links

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from white blood cells in the bone marrow, the soft inner part of bones. It develops quickly and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in children.

Below are some useful links from journals related to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia:


Please note that access to some of these articles may require a subscription or purchase. I highly recommend reaching out to Universities, Libraries or research institutions for possible free access.

Complications of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that starts from the young white blood cells present in the bone marrow. It’s the most common type of cancer in children. Here are some of the possible complications children can experience from Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia:

1. Weakened Immune System: One of the major complications is a weakened immune system because the body is producing too many abnormal white blood cells that do not function properly. This makes the child more susceptible to infections.

2. Anemia: This is another complication caused by a lack of red blood cells. As abnormal white blood cells overcrowd normal cells, this can cause fatigue, weakness, and paleness.

3. Bleeding and Bruising: Having too few platelets, which are responsible for blood clotting, can lead to easy bruising and bleeding.

4. Damage to Organs: In severe cases, the leukaemia cells can spread to other organs such as the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes, causing those organs to enlarge and not function properly.

5. Treatment Side Effects: Chemotherapy, the primary treatment for ALL, can have harsh side effects, including hair loss, nausea, and weakened immunity. Other possible side effects include long-term health effects such as heart or lung damage, growth development delays, secondary cancers, and infertility.

6. Psychological Impact: The diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment of ALL can also have a significant psychological impact on the child and their family, affecting their mental and emotional health.

Remember that while the complications may seem daunting, treatments have vastly improved over the years, resulting in a high success rate of remission and cure in children. Please consult with healthcare professionals for the best medical advice and treatment options.

Home remedies of Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: Children

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a severe cancer concerning the blood and bone marrow. Hence, it’s critical that ALL in children is dealt with via professional medical treatment and not home remedies. ALL often progresses quickly and needs to be treated as soon as possible by a medical professional. However, some supportive measures can be taken at home to help your child manage symptoms and side effects of treatment.

1. Healthy Diet: Try to ensure your child eats a well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains to keep their immune system as strong as possible.

2. Hydration: Stay well-hydrated, especially if your child is undergoing chemotherapy which can often lead to dehydration.

3. Rest: Make sure they are getting plenty of rest as the body needs energy to fight cancer.

4. Regular Hand Washing: This can help prevent infections which could be far more serious in a child with ALL.

5. Emotional Support: Provide a strong emotional support system for your child. Consider joining a support group or getting a counselor to help both you and your child navigate the emotional aspect of their illness.

Please remember these are auxiliary measures and professional medical care should not be foregone in favor of them. Proper treatments are a matter of life and death in severe stages of ALL and should be carried out under the supervision of healthcare experts. It’s vital to discuss any supportive measures you’re considering with your child’s healthcare team to ensure they’re safe and appropriate.

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Last Update: January 12, 2024