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What is the treatment for lymphoblastic leukaemia?

Q: My son is 5 years old; he is suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) since last one and half year. He is under maintenance phase fourth. After every maintenance phase he becomes very inactive and he doesn’t eat properly. I just want to know will my son become all right and is ALL 100% curable?

A:I am sorry to learn of your child's illness and can well imagine the distress it is causing you. Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) is perhaps the most common cancer seen in children and it is maximally seen in children aged 2-5 years. The cause of ALL is still unknown though some inherited genetic diseases and several environmental factors like ionising radiation and electromagnetic fields, parental use of alcohol and tobacco have been implicated as potential risk factors. Today, improvements in diagnosis and treatment result in the cure of more than 80% cases. The prognosis in any individual case, however, depends on the clinical and laboratory features and it is best for children aged 1-10 years. The disease is classified on the basis of the cell involved and is broadly divided into B- or T-lineage ALL with subgroups having distinct prognosis. Different forms of ALL require different approaches for optimal result but as the disease is a systemic one, the primary treatment is chemotherapy. Treatment usually has five phases induction, consolidation, interim maintenance, delayed intensification, and maintenance. Some forms (like B-ALL) are treated for 2- to 8-months, others (e.g. B-precursor and T-ALL) may require treatment for nearly 2½ years. Children may need frequent hospitalisation to deal with complications of treatment (blood transfusions or antibiotics etc.).

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