Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a cancer of lymphocytes that live in the bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen. ALL accounts for 20 percent of acute leukemia in adults, but is also the most common type of acute leukemia in children.

Signs and Symptoms

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) usually causes illness suddenly, within days or weeks. Most problems are related to the replacement of normal bone marrow and diminished normal blood counts. ALL causes bone marrow failure, which leads to:

  • Low levels of red blood cells, which can cause fatigue and shortness of breath
  • Low platelet counts, which can cause bleeding
  • Low normal white blood cell counts, which can lead to infection
  • Vulnerability to bruising, bleeding and infections

In addition to these signs of bone marrow failure, ALL sometimes can cause enlarged lymph nodes, an enlarged liver or spleen, or pain in the bones or joints.

Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.