Damaged 'leukemic' cells move quickly, attack healthy cells

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia also called acute lymphocytic leukemia, or ALL, is one of the four main types of leukemia, cancer of the blood cells. Acute refers to the fast-moving nature of ALL, which can spread quickly and cause death within months if untreated.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia begins in the white blood cells (lymphocytes) in the bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside our bones that creates blood cells. The damaged "leukemic" cell multiplies quickly, attacking the blood and overtaking normal cells and cell activity.

Symptoms and diagnosis of ALL

Common symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia may include symptoms associated with anemia, such as fatigue, dizziness, and dyspnea (shortness of breath), as well as unexplained fever, easy bleeding and bruising, and enlarged lymph nodes.

To determine the cause of your symptoms your doctor will conduct a full physical examination and review of your medical history to determine whether you have been exposed to certain risk factors, such as repeat exposure to the chemical benzene.

Your doctor may also order blood testing to check for abnormal levels of white blood cells, which may indicate leukemia. You may be referred to a hematologist (doctor who specializes in blood disorders) or oncologist (doctor who specializes in cancer) for further evaluation.

To schedule an appointment with a specialist at Main Line Health, call 1.866.CALL.MLH (1.866.225.5654) or use our secure online appointment request form.