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Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Prognosis


Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Prognosis

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a white blood cell cancer that is identified by an excessive number of lymphoblasts. Lymphoblasts are immature cells that are malignant and continually reproduce in the bone marrow of those with ALL. The condition can affect people of all ages, but children are its most common victims. Left untreated, the disease is potentially fatal within several weeks. As with other cancers, early detection and treatment are important to survival.

A variety of factors help determine the prognosis

Cytogenics is the study of chromosomal changes that occur in cancer cells. Some cytogenic subtypes have a better prognosis than others do. Infants less than a year old, elderly patients, males and non-whites are the groups that have the worst prognosis from ALL. Cancer that has metastasized to the brain or spinal cord is more difficult to treat and leads to a poor prognosis. Patients who have an extremely low white blood cell count also have a poor prognosis since this normally indicates that the disease has gone untreated for some time.

Treatments for ALL

Early detection leads to the most effective treatment. The major treatments for ALL include chemotherapy, radiation, steroid therapy, bone marrow transplant, stem cell transplant and growth factors. Surgery is not an option because the cancer cells associated with ALL are distributed throughout most of the body. Chemotherapy is almost always the first choice in treating ALL.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia normally (ALL) most often affects children between the ages of 1 and 9. This is also the group with the best prognosis because most cases are not caused by chromosomal abnormalities. Undifferentiated cases of ALL have an intermediate prognosis.

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