“Acute” means that the leukemia can progress quickly, and if not treated, would probably be fatal within a few months. “Lymphocytic” means it develops from early (immature) forms of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.2
This is the most common type of leukemia in young children. ALL can also occur in adults.1
ALL starts in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of certain bones, where new blood cells are made). Most often, the leukemia cells invade the blood fairly quickly. They can also sometimes spread to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and testicles (in males).2
It’s not clear what causes the DNA mutations that can lead to acute lymphocytic leukemia. But doctors have found that most cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia aren’t inherited.
Factors that may increase the risk of acute lymphocytic leukemia include: