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.
When Chris's parents noticed he had lingering pain and swollen lymph nodes, they knew it was time to take him to the doctor.
Marco Gutierrez, a 19-year-old from Potomac, Md., was enjoying dinner with family and friends after a University of Michigan football game when pain started to pulse through his chest and back.
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"I was grateful that we had excellent care that contributed to Will's comfort during the treatment process. I was also grateful that there are programs that I was able to become involved with that helped Children's."
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Shana is an oncologist in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at Children's National.
Our oncology (cancer) team provides personalized treatment plans for children with cancer, including access to clinical trials.
Our cancer and blood disorders team delivers comprehensive care, including novel treatments that are not yet widely available.