Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Acute lymphocytic leukemia is also called acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell (WBC). When a person has ALL, more lymphocytes are made than the body needs. These abnormal lymphocytes are called lymphoblasts (leukemia cells). Lymphoblasts do not fight infection like a normal WBC should. They crowd the bone marrow and prevent normal blood cells from growing and fighting infection.
AFTER YOU LEAVE:
- Take your medicine as directed. Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your primary healthcare provider or oncologist:
Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
- Get plenty of rest: Rest as much as you need to. Match your activity to the amount of energy you have.
- Prevent constipation: High-fiber foods, extra liquids, and regular exercise can help you prevent constipation. Examples of high-fiber foods are fruit and bran. Prune juice and water are good liquids to drink. Regular exercise helps your digestive system work. You may also be told to take over-the-counter fiber and stool softener medicines. Take these items as directed.
- Eat healthy foods: Healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. If you have trouble swallowing, you may be given foods that are soft or in liquid form. Ask about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes or vitamins. Tell your primary healthcare provider if you have problems eating, or if you are getting sick to your stomach.
- Drink liquids: You may need to drink extra liquids to avoid dehydration, especially if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments. Ask your primary healthcare provider how much liquid you need each day.
- Wash your hands: Wash your hands often, especially after you change a diaper or go to the bathroom. Wash your hands before you eat.
- Bathe daily: Make sure to wash between the folds of your skin. Use an electric shaver to prevent nicking your skin when shaving. Gently clean between your legs each time you have a bowel movement or urinate.
- Avoid people who are sick: Stay away from people who have a cold or the flu. Also try to stay away from large groups of people to decrease your risk of getting a cold or flu.
- Brush your teeth: Gently brush your teeth and gums using a brush with soft bristles. Do this 2 to 3 times every day. Change the water in your denture cup daily if you have dentures.
- Clean humidifiers: Change the water in your humidifier or other respiratory equipment daily.
Prevent bleeding and bruising:
- Avoid sharp objects: Use an electric razor to shave. Use a nail file to keep your nails short and smooth.
- Care for your mouth: Use a soft toothbrush. Do not floss your teeth while your platelet count is low. Do not use toothpicks.
- Choose light activities: Avoid any activity that may cause chest pain or trouble breathing. Do not play contact sports such as football or soccer. Avoid high altitudes.
- Blow your nose gently: Do not pick your nose.
- Avoid medicines called NSAIDS: These are medicines used to reduce pain. They thin blood and make it easier to bleed.
- Use lubrication when you have sex: Use a water-based lubricant during sex to decrease the chance of bleeding.
- Do not use tampons: Use sanitary pads instead. Count the number of pads you use during your monthly period.
For support and more information:
- The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Inc.
1311 Mamaroneck Avenue
White Plains , NY 10605
Phone: 1- 914 - 949-5213
Phone: 1- 800 - 955-4572
Web Address: http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org
- American Cancer Society
250 Williams Street
Atlanta , GA 30303
Phone: 1- 800 - 227-2345
Web Address: http://www.cancer.org
- National Cancer Institute
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 300
Bethesda , MD 20892-8322
Phone: 1- 800 - 422-6237
Web Address: http://www.cancer.gov
Contact your primary healthcare provider or oncologist if:
- You see blood in your spit or vomit.
- You have coughing or shortness of breath.
- You feel dizzy or your heart begins to beat very fast.
- You have sores or white patches in your mouth or throat.
- You have rectal pain or hemorrhoids.
- You have diarrhea or bloody bowel movements.
- You have pain in your eyes, ears, skin, joints, or stomach.
- You have pain when you urinate or bad-smelling urine.
- You have frequent nose bleeds or your gums bleed.
- You have blurred vision, or blood spots in the whites of your eyes.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care
Seek care immediately or call 911 if:
- You have a headache, stiff neck, or have trouble seeing or thinking clearly.
- You are taking chemotherapy pills or have had chemotherapy in the last two weeks and you have a fever.
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You suddenly feel lightheaded and are short of breath.
- You have chest pain. You may have more pain when you take a deep breath or cough. You may cough up blood.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.