Get answers to your Adult Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia questions.
Acute lymphoblastic (or lymphocytic) leukemia
The word leukemia literally means "white blood" and is used to describe a variety of cancers that begin in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow.
White blood cells (leukocytes) evolve from immature cells referred to as blasts. Malignancy of these blast cells is the source of leukemias, which generally progresses as follows:
They spill out of the marrow into the bloodstream and lymph system and can travel to the brain and spinal cord (the central nervous system). As the number of normal cells decline, dangerous symptoms develop, which, if untreated, become lethal.
Leukemias are divided into two major types:
Some blasts are called lymphoblasts (which become mature cells called lymphocytes) and others are called myeloblasts (which mature to myeloid cells). Acute leukemias are in turn subdivided into two classifications according to whether the malignant blasts are lymphocytes or myeloid:
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is also known as acute lymphoid leukemia or acute lymphoblastic leukemia. The majority of childhood leukemias are of the ALL type. Malignancies in this disease can arise either in T-cell or B-cell lymphocytes.
Blood Cell Lines
In adults, blood cells are produced by the bone marrow, the spongy material filling the body's bones. The bone marrow produces two blood cell groups, myeloid and lymphoid.
Myeloid Cell Line. The myeloid cell line includes the following:
Lymphoid Cell Line. The lymphoid cell line includes the lymphocytes, which are the body's primary infection fighters. Among other vital functions, certain lymphocytes are responsible for producing antibodies, factors that can target and attack specific foreign substances (antigens).
Lymphocytes develop in the thymus gland or bone marrow and are therefore categorized as either B cells (bone marrow-derived cells) or T cells (thymus gland-derived cells).
Lymphocytes and the Lymph System
Understanding how acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) arises requires knowledge of lymphocytic development and function:
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