By: Dr. Thomas Incledon
Be in the Know: 6 Common Signs of ALL
ALL, also known as acute lymphocytic or lymphoblastic leukemia, is a serious condition that progresses quickly, so it is especially important to know the six most common symptoms of this type of cancer. They are:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Bone pain
- Bleeding from the gums
- Frequent infections
Some other signs may be pale skin, shortness of breath, and general weakness. Many of these symptoms mimic the flu and, while that may be the cause, if they do not improve at a normal pace, it is important to get a doctor’s opinion.
Now that you know what to look for, what does it mean if you or a loved one (parent or child) is experiencing these signs?
It means you need to see a doctor quickly. Many people with ALL feel fine when they are diagnosed, but that does not mean the cancer is not present in the body. Since ALL is common in children, it is important to pay attention to how your children are acting and to listen to any consistent complaints.
Your doctor will perform a blood test to determine if ALL is the reason someone is experiencing these issues. If it shown the person has acute lymphocytic leukemia, your doctor will likely recommend beginning treatment right away. ALL is typically treated with chemotherapy and sometimes other oral medications that do not all into the chemotherapy category.
Because of the acute nature of this type of leukemia, the time to take action is immediately after diagnosis. So, the sooner the diagnosis can occur, the better. If you wait too long and the person is feeling fatigue and severe pain, treating the cancer will be more difficult and costlier.
You now know common signs and what to do if diagnosed, but what exactly is ALL?
It is a type of leukemia that progresses quickly. It develops due to damage to cells in the bone marrow and because of location, it alters the production of cells we need to live. It is characterized by an increase in specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes. The cancer changes the functionality of these cells, making them replicate rapidly. They are also unable to do their job because of the mutation ALL causes. Children and adults can develop this type of cancer.
You understand what ALL is now. So, are there causes or risk factors for ALL?
While it is known that long-term exposure to radiation and chemicals such as benzene can cause DNA damage, which has been linked to blood cancers like leukemia, it is largely unknown why ALL is so prevalent in children. ALL is more common in Caucasian males than other ethnicities or genders.
In recent years, research has shown there may be a connection of increased risk of developing ALL in people with certain inherited chromosomal conditions such as Down and Klinefelter’s syndromes, as well as patients with Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, neurofibromatosis, and those with various forms of ataxia.
If you are interested in learning more about our personalized care and treatment plans for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, contact us for a complimentary 30-minute consultation today.