Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, or ALL, is a rare form of leukemia. With ALL, the bone marrow makes too many lymphoblasts (a type of white blood cell).

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our leukemia subspecialists are world-renowned experts and central Ohio’s referral center for treating patients with acute leukemia. These experts focus solely on blood and bone marrow disorders and who reach across medical disciplines (hematologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, molecular and biological pathologists, genetic scientists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific leukemia.

And by receiving access to the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are always available for their treatment and care.

What is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a rare form of leukemia in which too many bone marrow stem cells become a kind of white blood cell called lymphoblasts.

When too many lymphoblasts develop, they become leukemia cells (also known as blasts). These leukemia cells do not fight infection as well as normal white blood cells do, and as the number of leukemia cells increases in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room available for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This can cause infection, anemia and easy bleeding.

ALL is usually diagnosed in children, although it is possible for adults to develop the disease (in adults, it’s sometimes called acute lymphocytic leukemia).

Each year, about 6,000 new cases of ALL are diagnosed in the United States, and ALL has about a 93 percent cure rate. Children under 5 years old are at highest risk for the disease, and boys and men are at slightly higher risk for ALL than are girls and women.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Diagram

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Symptoms

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) can progress quickly if it is not detected and treated. The disease may spread to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord).

ALL symptoms include:

  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unexplained loss of appetite or weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Bone or stomach pain
  • Frequent infections
  • Tiny, dark red spots under the skin
  • A feeling of pain or fullness below the ribs

ALL patients are prone to infections, too, so when designing a targeted treatment plan for each patient, the OSUCCC – James experts will weigh a number of factors, including whether or not the patient has low blood cell counts (called cytopenia) that cause anemia or other problems.

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Having symptoms does not necessarily mean you have ALL. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms are severe or have continued for longer than a few weeks.

If you’ve been diagnosed with leukemia, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a leukemia specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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Patient Story

Tina McManis

Tina McMannis

After a successful bone marrow transplant, acute lymphoblastic leukemia survivor Tina McMannis knows how fortunate she is that the OSUCCC – James was nearby.

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