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.
Our leukemia and lymphoma team provides comprehensive treatments for your child, including chemotherapy, targeted therapies, and surgery.
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"Probably the only thing that could possibly be worse than a cancer diagnosis for yourself is hearing these words about your child."
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Shana is an oncologist in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at Children's National.
"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."