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Childhood Leukaemia

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Childhood leukaemia

Leukaemia is the most common cancer affecting children and young people, affecting around 500 families in the UK each year.

There are many different types of leukaemia, some of which develop faster (acute) and others which develop more slowly (chronic). The majority of childhood leukaemia is acute, but there are different types which affect different cells.

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) affects around 300 children each year in the UK. It’s aggressive and develops rapidly, so intensive treatment is needed. 

Up to one in five of children with leukaemia develop another fast-developing form of the disease called T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).

Treatment usually involves chemotherapy and steroids, but radiotherapy and sometimes a bone marrow transplant can also be needed. The intensive treatment can cause unpleasant side effects including nausea, tiredness and hair loss. The cancer can also recur and, sadly, some children still lose their lives.

Dr Owen Williams

University College London’s Institute of Child Health:

Our ultimate goal is to spare children from some of the side effects of chemotherapy and protect more children from relapses.”

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