This is the cancer of the bone marrow and blood which may develop and very rapidly progress. It begins in the blood and bone marrow where white blood cells are produced. It originates from the mediastinum (middle section of the chest cavity), which is a group of structures in the thorax surrounded by connective or fibrous tissue.
The lymphoid cells are produced in the bone marrow. These cells go on to form the white blood cells. In Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL), they are arrested in their early developmental or precursor stage and are produced in excessive numbers. In this stage, they are known as lymphoblasts. These abnormal cells then interfere with the production and development of normal white blood cells.
White blood cells are intended to protect the body from infection as a form of immune response but due to the excessive production of abnormal cells, this is hampered. The condition most commonly occurs among children but adults are also affected to a lower degree. However, the condition can be successfully treated. It is important to initiate treatment as soon as it is diagnosed.
In the United Kingdom, the cases are found at the rate of 1 in every 100,000 population every year. It represents about 12% of all types of leukaemia.
Age: It is one of the most common types of cancer that occurs in children, and the age peaks at about 3 to 4 years. It is not a common disease among adults, and a small peak occurs among adults who are over 50 years of age. In the United States about 3000 to 4000 children are found to have the leukaemia every year. Among children in the US, the incidence peaks at about 3 to 5 years of age.