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Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia in Children

Medically reviewed by Last updated on May 6, 2024.

What is acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)?

ALL is a type of 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 to carry oxygen throughout the body. Platelets help the blood clot. ALL causes your child's body to make too many immature (young) white blood cells. 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, your child is at risk for infection, bleeding, and anemia. Anemia is a low level of red blood cells.

What causes ALL?

The exact cause is unknown. ALL is most common in children younger than 10 years. The following may increase your child's risk for ALL:

What are the signs and symptoms of ALL?

How is ALL diagnosed?

How is ALL treated?

Treatment may depend on your child's age and the results of testing. Your child may get treatment in phases. In the first phase, healthcare providers will give your child treatments to kill leukemia cells. This helps your child's ALL go into remission. Remission means there are no longer any signs of leukemia. After your child is in remission, he or she will get the next phase of treatment, called consolidation or intensification. The goal of this phase is to kill any hidden leukemia cells and prevent relapse. The third phase is called maintenance. The goal of this phase is to kill leukemia cells that may regrow. Treatment may include the following:

Treatment options

The following list of medications are related to or used in the treatment of this condition.

View more treatment options

How can I manage my child's ALL?

Further information

It may be difficult for your child to go through cancer treatment. Ask your child's healthcare provider for information about camps for children with cancer.

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) if:

When should I seek immediate care?

When should I call my child's doctor?

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's healthcare providers to decide what care you want for your child. 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.

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Learn more about Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Treatment options

Symptoms and treatments

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.