A Closer Look into Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

A Closer Look into Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

Phoebe and Grace

What Is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia?

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is a type of childhood cancer that is very common in Australia. It is one of the most common childhood cancers. This type of cancer affects the blood and bone marrow in a child’s body. The cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal blood cells. As a result, the inadequate number of red blood cells and platelets can cause Anaemia, where there is bleeding and/or bruising.

How Common Is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia In Australia?

There are 304 Australians each year that are diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Sixty percent of these Australians are between the age of 0 to 14 years old, making it on the most common forms of childhood cancers. It has also been found to affect males more so than females.

What Is The Cause

Unfortunately, the exact cause of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is still largely unknown. Research has suggested however that acute lymphoblastic leukaemia has been caused due to a mutation in one of more of the genes that control blood cell development. However, at this point in time, it is still has not been proven.

What Is The Diagnosis Process, Treatment And Side Effects?

Currently, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is detected through a biopsy or examination of the bone marrow. Once it is confirmed through the examination, treatment will begin immediately. Treatment will include Chemotherapy, which is the main form of treatment. Chemotherapy is made up of a range of drugs such as steroids that aims to destroy leukaemic cells and induce a remission.

The side effects of using chemotherapy varies between individual. Each body will respond differently however, there are a range of common side effects that can occur. These include:

– Feeling ill or sick which can cause nausea and/or vomiting

– Feeling a sense of tiredness or signs of weakness

– Noticeable hair loss and thinning

– Mouth problems such as mucositis or ulcers

– Diarrhoea or constipation

– Skin problems such as dryness, rash or sensitivity to sunlight and/or

– Fertility problems

How Can I Help Children With Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia?

As you can imagine, the process of diagnosis, treatment and recovery can be a long and extensive experience not only for the child who has been diagnosed, but the whole family as well. Many families will undergo a sense of shock, anger, stress, sadness and frustration.

In order to give support to families who are experiencing problems financially, individuals can start a fundraiser to help ease the burden on the family. You can do this on behalf of a family you know of, or for a love one within your own family.

Offering to organise a fundraiser can help cover any associated costs with treatment and recovery. This could be medical bills, medicines, or even covering costs in the household while the immediate family focuses on the health and wellbeing of their loved one.

photo by: Doug Beckers