Acute lymphocytic leukemia

You are here: 

Disease progression of acute lymphocytic leukemia

Cancer cells can spread from where they start to other parts of the body. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-forming tissue in the bone marrow, and it can develop wherever the blood travels. As a result, acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is often widespread when it is found.

Understanding how a type of cancer usually grows and spreads helps your healthcare team plan your treatment and future care. ALL cells usually collect in:

  • the peripheral blood and bone marrow
  • the lymph nodes
  • the brain and spinal cord (called the central nervous system, or CNS)
  • the liver
  • the spleen
  • a joint or along the surface of bones
  • the thymus – often affected with T-cell ALL
  • the skin, testicles, kidneys or eyes (in rare cases)

Leukemia does not usually form solid tumours in these organs. The buildup of abnormal cells in the organs affects them so they don’t work normally.

Stories

Canadian Cancer Trials Group researcher Dr Wendy Parulekar The Canadian Cancer Trials Group found that extending hormone therapy keeps breast cancer at bay.

Learn more

Taking action against all cancers

Icon - question mark

The latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report found that of all newly diagnosed cancers in 2017, half are expected to be lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancers. Learn what you can do to reduce the burden of cancer.

Learn more