A.L.L. makes up 80% of all childhood leukaemias (below 15 years)
More than 300 adults and children are diagnosed with A.L.L. each year in Australia
Bone marrow, the producer of blood cells
Leukaemia affects the bone marrow, the place where all blood cells are produced. These cells include red blood cells (responsible for transporting oxygen), white blood cells (that defend the body against infection), and platelets (which aid in clotting).
In Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, lymphoblasts multiply in an uncontrolled way, instead of growing into mature cells and moving into the blood. They then interfere with the normal production of blood cells. They may also reach other organs, such as the lymph nodes, liver and spleen.
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has no known cause or triggering factors. It is not contagious or hereditary. Some risk factors have been identified:
- Exposure to ionizing radiation: accidental, therapeutic (radiation therapy), or occupational
- History of chemotherapy, administered during a prior cancer
- The presence of certain genomic anomalies, including Down syndrome
- Pre-existing blood conditions