Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

How Is It Diagnosed?

Tests and procedures that may be used to diagnose adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia include:
  • Physical exam and history
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Peripheral blood smear
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
  • Cytogenetic analysis
  • Immunophenotyping.
Physical Exam and History
The physical exam will check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the person's health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A complete blood count is a procedure in which a sample of blood is drawn and checked for the:
  • Number of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets
  • Amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells
  • Portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.
Peripheral Blood Smear
A peripheral blood smear is a procedure in which a sample of blood is checked for the:
  • Presence of blast cells
  • Number and kinds of white blood cells
  • Number of platelets
  • Changes in the shape of blood cells.
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy
In a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, the doctor will remove a small piece of bone and bone marrow by inserting a needle into the hip bone or breastbone. A pathologist will then view both the bone and the bone marrow samples under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.
Cytogenetic Analysis
A cytogenetic analysis is a test in which the cells in a sample of blood or bone marrow are looked at under a microscope to find out if there are certain changes in the chromosomes in the lymphocytes. For example, sometimes in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia, part of one chromosome is moved to another chromosome. This is called the Philadelphia chromosome.
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Adult ALL

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