Disease Information

    Leukemias / Lymphomas: Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

    Alternate Names: acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute lymphoid leukemia, ALL

    What is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?

    Acute lymphoblastic leukemia(ALL) is a cancer that affects the white blood cells. These cells fight infection and help protect the body against disease.

    Patients with ALL have too many immature white blood cells in their bone marrow. These cells crowd out normal white blood cells. Without enough normal white blood cells, the body has a harder time fighting infections.

    ALL affects a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes, causing them to build up in the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.


    How common is acute lymphoblastic leukemia?

    ALL is the most common type of childhood cancer. It most often occurs in children ages 3 to 5 and affects slightly more boys than girls. ALL is most common in Hispanic children, followed by those of white and African-American descent.

    About 3,000 people younger than age 20 are found to have ALL each year in the United States.

    Siblings of children with leukemia have a slightly higher risk of developing ALL, but the rate is still quite low: no more than 1 in 500.


    What are the symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia?

    Symptoms of ALL include:


    How is acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated?

    Expect your child’s ALL treatment to include three phases:

    Four types of treatment may be used during any of these treatment phases:


    What are the survival rates for acute lymphoblastic leukemia?


    Why choose St. Jude for your child’s ALL treatment?

    The St. Jude Web site is designed for educational purposes only and is not engaged in rendering medical advice or professional services. The information provided through this site should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. It is not a substitute for professional care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider.