What Should We Know About Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia?




Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is a type of blood cancer, it occurs commonly in children and has high cure rates in them.

What are the common chemotherapy drugs used for ALL?

Chemotherapy is one of the treatments for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which uses anticancer drugs in combination. Generally, chemotherapy lasts two years over 3 phases. The common drugs used in chemotherapy include:

  • Vincristine (Oncovin)
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
  • Cytarabine (Cytosar)
  • L-asparaginace (Elspar) or PEG-L-asapraginase (Oncaspar)
  • Daunorubicin (Cerubidine) or Doxorubicin (Adriamycin)
  • 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP, Purinethol)
  • Etoposide (VP-16)
  • Steroids (Prednisone, Dexamethasone)
  • Teniposide (Vumon)
  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall)
  • Methoterate oral (Xatmep)


What are the survival rates of ALL?

On average, 70% ALL patients take five years to recover.

But people in different age groups have different ALL survival rate: The survival rate for patients who are less than 14 years old is 90%; The survival rate for patients who are 65 years old or older is 15%.


What are the symptoms of ALL?

Leukemia cells crowd out normal blood cells in the bone marrow, thus causing ALL. The major symptoms of ALL include:

  • Symptoms of anemia: Persistent fatigue or weakness; Dizziness; Light-headedness; Shortness of breath
  • Recurring infections
  • Fevers
  • Severe and frequent bleeding even from minor cuts
  • Bone or joint pain


How to classify ALL?

According to different size, cytoplasm, nucleoli, basophilia (color of cytoplasm), and vacuolation of abnormal cells in ALL patients, FAB (French-American-British) classify those cells into three types´╝Ü

ALL-L1: T-cell or pre-B cell involved; small and homogeneous (uniform) cells.
ALL-L2: T-cell or pre-B cell involved; large and heterogeneous (varied) cells.
ALL-L3: B-cell involved; large and varied cells with vacuoles.


What are the prognoses of ALL?

Depending on the following various factors, different prognoses of ALL appear:

  • Gender: Females tend to fare better than males.
    Ethnicity: The white are more likely to develop acute leukemia than the black.
    Cancer spreading into the Central nervous system (brain or spinal cord) has worse outcomes.
    Early relapse of ALL.
    Genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, and other chromosomal abnormalities.
    Patient’s response to initial treatment.
    Length of time required to reach complete remission.

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