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The main types of treatment are chemotherapy; targeted therapy, where newer drugs are used to “tar- get” specific parts of cancer cells; and stem cell transplant. Treatment of ALL usually lasts about two years. Sometimes the condition goes into remission but comes back, and a repeat of the protocol may be done.


For More Information:


The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

1-800-955-4572

www.lls.org


The National Cancer Institute (NCI)

1-800-422-6237

www.cancer.gov

Leukemia is a form of cancer that occurs in the blood cells. The National Institute of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute says with leukemia, cancerous blood cells form and crowd out healthy cells in the bone marrow.


The American Cancer Society (ACS) says there are four types of leukemia:


•  acute myeloid leukemia (AML);

•  chronic myeloid leukemia (CML);

•  acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL); and

•  chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).


When leukemia is considered acute, it will progress rapidly, and if not treated, it will cause death in a matter of months. Other forms of leukemia are considered chronic. They grow more slowly, getting worse over a longer period of time. AML starts in early forms of myeloid cells, which make white and red blood cells, or platelets. ALL is a cancer of the lymphoblasts, the white blood cells that fight infection. It begins in early immature forms of lymphocytes, a type of whole blood cell. White blood cells are the most common type of blood cell susceptible to becoming cancerous. Platelets and red blood cells may become cancerous as well. Previous chemotherapy and radiation treatment may increase the risk of developing ALL.

GENERAL FACTS ABOUT LEUKEMIA

JEAN JEFFERS

Jean is an RN with an MSN from University of Cincinnati. She is a staff writer for Living Well 60 Plus and Health & Wellness magazines.

more articles by jean jeffers

The ACS says ALL is not an isolated disease but rather a group of intricately connected diseases. Patients with different subtypes of ALL may have different outlooks, prognoses and responses to treatment. The ACS estimates in the year 2016, there will be about 6,599 new cases of ALL in the United States. It estimates further there will be about 1,430 deaths from ALL in 2016. ALL affects one in 750 persons.


Risk factors for acquiring ALL include being male, Caucasian and older than 70. Being exposed to high levels of radiation in the environment or having certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, may also lead to ALL. Symptoms of ALL include fever, fatigue and easy bruising or bleeding. Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow are the preferred ways to detect and diagnose ALL. Certain factors may affect prognosis and treatment options. In recent years, scientists have made strides in determining how certain changes in DNA can cause normal bone marrow cells to become leukemia cells. There continues to be new information coming out about DNA mutations (changes) in patterns of the genes.