A Part of the University of Maryland Medical Center

Connect with UMGCC
Facebook Twitter YouTube Blog iPhone
Email PageEmail page Print PagePrint page

Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment

Stages of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Once childhood ALL has been diagnosed, tests are done to find out if the cancer has spread to the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), testicles, or to other parts of the body.

The extent or spread of cancer is usually described as stages. For childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), risk groups are used instead of stages. The following tests and procedures may be used to determine the risk group:

There are three ways that cancer spreads in the body.

When cancer cells spread outside the blood, a solid tumor may form. This process is called metastasis. The three ways that cancer cells spread in the body are:

The new (metastatic) tumor is the same type of cancer as the primary cancer. For example, if leukemia cells spread to the brain, the cancer cells in the brain are actually leukemia cells. The disease is metastatic leukemia, not brain cancer.

In childhood ALL, risk groups are used instead of stages.

Because ALL is a disease of the blood cells, it has already spread throughout the body at diagnosis. There is no staging system for ALL. Risk groups are used to plan treatment.

Risk groups are described as:

Other factors that affect the risk group include the following:

It is important to know the risk group in order to plan treatment. Children with high risk ALL usually receive more aggressive treatment than children with standard risk ALL.