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Diagnosing Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Tests and procedures that may be used to diagnose acute lymphocytic leukemia include:
  • Physical exam and history
  • Complete blood count
  • Peripheral blood smear
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
  • Cytogenetic analysis
  • Immunophenotyping.
Physical Exam and History
A physical exam entails an exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease, such as lumps or anything else that seems unusual. A history of the patient'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
  • The amount of hemoglobin (the protein that carries oxygen) in the red blood cells
  • The 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
  • The number and kinds of white blood cells
  • The number of platelets
  • Changes in the shape of blood cells.
Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy
A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy entails the removal of a small piece of bone and bone marrow by inserting a needle into the hipbone or breastbone. A pathologist will then view both the bone and bone marrow samples under a microscope to look for abnormal cells.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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