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Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The bone marrow makes white blood cells (WBC), red blood cells (RBC), and platelets. WBCs help fight infection. RBCs help carry oxygen throughout the body. Platelets help the blood clot. ALL causes your body to make too many immature (young) white blood cells (WBC). These cells are cancer (leukemia) cells, and cannot fight infection like healthy WBCs. Cancer cells crowd the bone marrow and prevent it from making healthy blood cells. Without enough healthy blood cells, you are at risk for infection, bleeding, and anemia. Anemia is a low level of red blood cells.
Call 911 or have someone else call for any of the following:
- You feel short of breath or have chest pain.
- You cannot be woken.
- You faint or lose consciousness.
Seek care immediately if:
- Your temperature is greater than 100.4°F (38°C).
- You have heavy bleeding.
- Your heart is beating faster than usual.
- You have blood in your urine or bowel movements.
Contact your healthcare provider if:
- You have nausea or are vomiting.
- You have bruising not caused by an injury.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
- Prevent infection. Wash your hands often, avoid people who are sick, and clean humidifiers daily. Ask your healthcare provider for more information on how to prevent infection.
- Prevent bleeding and bruising. Use an electric razor to shave. Do not play contact sports, such as football. Use a soft toothbrush. Do not floss your teeth when your platelet count is low. Blow your nose gently. Do not take NSAIDs or aspirin. NSAIDs and aspirin prevent platelets from helping your blood clot. This increases your risk for bleeding. Be careful with sharp tools or objects.
- Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol. Alcohol can thin your blood and make it easier to bleed. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke or drink and need help quitting.
- Drink liquids as directed. You may need to drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration. You may be at risk for dehydration if you vomit or have diarrhea from cancer treatments. Ask how much liquid you need each day and which liquids are best for you.
- Exercise as directed. Exercise can help you have more energy. Ask your healthcare provider to help you create an exercise plan.
- Eat healthy foods. Healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. Examples of healthy foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Ask if you need to be on a special diet. 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.
For more information and support:
- 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
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.