Leukemia is cancer caused by abnormal white blood cells. These cells are produced in bone marrow and normally help the body fight infection.
The most common type of leukemia in children is acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In this disease, the body produces too many lymphoblasts (a type of white blood cell) and they become cancerous.
Medical experts don’t know the specific cause of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Some risk factors that may be involved include:
Common signs and symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia can occur in other illnesses. You should see your pediatrician if your child has any of the following:
If your pediatrician suspects that your child has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, he or she will perform further tests to confirm a diagnosis:
Early treatment is important to ensure that your child can completely recover. Treatments that we recommend at Children’s National include:
Learn more about our Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at Children’s National.
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Christopher Melkonian was six years old when he came down with a low-grade fever and diffuse bone pain. Unsure of what was happening, his parents Darlene and David took him to Children’s National Health System and soon found out that Christopher had acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of blood and bone marrow cancer that affects white blood cells.
We deliver comprehensive care for all blood cancers including chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant and experimental therapeutics.
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"Small wins every day add up to a victory. Don't get too far ahead of yourself, stay in the moment. Write everything down and keep a log of the treatments."
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Shana is an oncologist in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at Children's National.
When Joey was 10-years-old, he was sent to Children's National and diagnosed with leukemia. Today, Joey is 16-years-old and cancer-free. He is enjoying his junior year of high school and playing baseball.
"Take advantage of all of the resources available and the help that is out there. No one can do this alone. Get involved. Learn. Advocate for your child and never ever be afraid to ask questions."
"Our best advice is to take each episode as it comes, and you will get through them all! It may sound like a cliché, but you do learn to live one day at a time and to relish every small milestone in your child's life."