Diagram of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (also called ALL or ALL leukaemia) is a rare cancer of the blood cells. 
  • It is an acute leukaemia and can cause symptoms very quickly. 
  • It can develop in people of any age, but is more common in children and young people, and in people over the age of 75.
  • Blood cells are made in the bone marrow. This is a spongy material found inside our bones. 
  • Every blood cell grows from a stem cell in the bone marrow. Normally, the stem cells make an early stage of the blood cell called a blast. These blasts develop into healthy blood cells.
  • In ALL, the lymphoid stem cells make abnormal blasts that do not fully develop. 
  • These abnormal blasts are called leukaemia cells.
  • Lymphocytes usually fight and prevent infections. 
  • However, the leukaemia cells cannot fight infection like normal lymphocytes. 
  • They also fill up the bone marrow. 
  • This means there is not enough space to make the usual numbers of healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets that your body needs.

What Causes ALL?

Stage 1 - A genetic ‘accident’

1% go on to develop ALL

Stage 2 – Exposure to Infection

Priming of the Immune System

Facts & Costs

  • About 75% of childhood Leukaemia is ALL
  • 800 children a year in the UK are diagnosed with ALL
  • 3,500 children a year in the US are diagnosed with ALL
  • Rates of ALL in the west are increasing at c.1% per year
  • Treatment costs range between £150,000 to £1.5m (or $200,000 to $2m in the US)
  • At the lower end of the cost range the Total Annual cost £6.5m ($8.8m)
  • Plus the emotional impact, the side effects, impact on family and education