Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is the most common form of cancer in children but it also affects adults. ALL is characterised by an overproduction of immature white blood cells, called lymphoblasts or leukaemic blasts. These cells crowd the bone marrow, preventing it from making normal blood cells. They can also spill out into the blood stream and circulate around the body. Due to their immaturity, these cells are unable to function properly to prevent or fight infection. Inadequate numbers of red cells and platelets being made by the marrow cause anaemia, and easy bleeding and bruising. Each year in Australia more than 300 people are diagnosed with ALL. Overall, ALL is a rare disease, accounting for 0.3% of all cancers diagnosed.
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