Adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL; also called acute lymphocytic
leukemia) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This type of cancer usually gets worse quickly if it is not treated.
the bone marrow makes stem cells (immature cells) that develop into mature blood cells. There are 3 types of mature blood cells:
In ALL, too many stem cells develop into a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. These lymphocytes may also be called lymphoblasts or leukemic cells. There are 3 types of lymphocytes:
In ALL, the lymphocytes are not able to fight infection very well. Also, as the number of lymphocytes increases in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may cause infection, anemia, and easy bleeding. The cancer can also spread to the central nervous system (brain and spinal
This summary is about adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Refer to the following PDQ summaries for information on other types of leukemia:
Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Possible risk factors for ALL include the following:
The early signs of ALL may be similar to the flu or other common diseases.
A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:
These and other symptoms may be caused by adult acute lymphoblastic
leukemia or by other conditions.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
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