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Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL)

Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is a rare blood cancer, which affects the lymphocytic (antibody producing) white blood cells that are produced by the bone marrow. It is considered rare as it affects about five in every 100,000 children per year.

This information describes diagnosis and treatment of common ALL in children aged between 1 and 15 years old. If your child has a different type of ALL, or is older or younger, the differences in treatment will be explained to you by your child’s doctor.

When someone has ALL, there is an excess number of abnormal lymphocytes in the circulating blood which are unable to help fight infection in the body. The marrow is unable to make enough normal blood cells and this may lead to a set of debilitating symptoms.

There are several different types of lymphocyte, the main types are called B and T cells and have different jobs in the immune system. Most cases of childhood ALL are a type called precursor B-cell ALL, also sometimes called common-ALL.

Acute means that that the cancer comes on quickly and, if left untreated, progress quickly, Lymphoblastic refers to the presence of large numbers of lymphoblasts which are immature white blood cells.

ALL is the most common cancer type in children and it usually responds to treatment very well. About nine out of ten (90%) of patients with this form of leukaemia being long-term survivors.

  • Published: Nov 2016
  • Next planned review: Dec 2018