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. It is separated into two groups based on the type of lymphocyte the leukemia started in. That would be B cells or T cells. About 8 out of 10 cases of ALL in children are B-cell ALLs. These can be further classified into sub-types. The other 2 out of 10 cases are T-cell ALLs.
Learn more about our Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at Children’s National Hospital.
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:
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When Chris's parents noticed he had lingering pain and swollen lymph nodes, they knew it was time to take him to the doctor.
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.
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.
Saved by a bone marrow donation from her brother, Davis, and strengthened by a personalized T-cell therapy post transplant, Molly’s life is back on track and she’s dancing again.
We deliver comprehensive care for all blood cancers including chemotherapy, bone marrow transplant and experimental therapeutics.
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Every year, our physicians and staff work with nearly 200 patients and families fighting leukemia and lymphoma. Treatment is a long and challenging process, but it is one that is highly effective and our team is here to support you throughout this process.
Our oncology (cancer) team provides personalized treatment plans for children with cancer, including access to clinical trials.
Shana is an oncologist in the Leukemia/Lymphoma Program at Children's National.