Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL)
Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL) is also known as acute lymphatic leukaemia, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and acute lymphogenous leukaemia. It is characterised by abnormal production of immature lymphocytes, which get accumulated in the bone marrow, bloodstream and the lymphatic system. ALL accounts for about 80 per cent of the childhood leukaemias having peak incidence around 5 years of age. In adults, ALL accounts for about 20 per cent of the acute leukaemias. Acute lymphocytic leukaemia is further classified into a common type of ALL, B-cell type of ALL (Burkitt cell acute lymphocytic leukaemia), T-cell type of ALL and Null-cell type of ALL (undifferentiated ALL), depending on the type of the lymphocytes of its origin. The common symptoms of acute lymphocytic leukaemia include fatigue, malaise, fever, chills, respiratory discomfort, bone & joint pains, gum hypertrophy, anaemia, loss of appetite and flu-like symptoms. There may be generalised lymphadenopathy, hepatomegaly and splenomegaly. Thrombocytopenia may occur leading to bleeding tendencies such as gingival bleeding, epistaxis, menorrhagia, blood in stool and bleeding in the skin & mucosa. There may be neutropenia leading to persistent bacterial, viral and fungal infections. The increased number of leukaemic cells in the blood may lead to impaired circulation causing headache, confusion and dyspnoea.
There is no definite staging system for ALL. In untreated cases, there are too many leukaemic cells in the peripheral blood and the bone marrow. In the remission stage, the peripheral blood counts and the bone marrow return to normal following the treatment. In the relapsed stage, the leukaemia recurs. In the refractory stage, the ALL fails to go into remission even after the treatment. Procedures used to diagnose acute lymphocytic leukaemia include complete blood count, bone marrow biopsy and CSF examination.
Acute non-lymphocytic leukaemias (ANLL)
Acute non-lymphocytic leukaemias (ANLL) include acute myelogenous leukaemia, acute monocytic leukaemia, acute promyelocytic leukaemia, acute erythroleukaemia and acute myelomonocytic leukaemia. The most common among these is acute myelogenous leukaemia.