T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia also known as T-ALL is a specific type of leukaemia. It is a variant of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), with features identical to some types of lymphoma.
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL) is aggressive and progresses rapidly. It is known for affecting the lymphoid-cell-producing stem cells, in particular a type of WBC named T lymphocytes as opposed to ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukaemia) which typically affects B lymphocytes.
A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast cell and then 1 of 3 types of lymphocytes (WBCs):
- B lymphocytes that create antibodies to help fight infection.
- T lymphocytes that help B lymphocytes create the antibodies that help fight infection.
- Natural killer cells that attack malignant cells and viruses.
Causes of T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia)
- It is not contagious
- It is not inherited
- Anaemia: because of lack of RBCs
- Tiredness, weakness, shortness of breath, light-headedness, palpitations
- Infections: because of normal WBCs
- Infections are a bit more frequent, more severe and last longer
- Malaise (general feeling of illness), fever and sweats
- Bleeding gums, purpura (small bruises in skin), nosebleeds
- Bleeding and bruising: because of lack of platelets
- T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia often causes swollen lymph nodes in the middle portion of the chest (mediastinum) which may be responsible for affecting breathing or the circulation.
- Lumbar Puncture: a sample of fluid (CSF) from around the spine – In order to show whether there are leukaemia cells in the nervous system.
- X-rays, Ultrasound or Scans (CT or MRI): In order to monitor impact on organs of the body.
- Chemotherapy: Cell-killing medicines. Steroids are normally recommended in combination with chemotherapy for T-ALL
- Radiation therapy: Usually only given as part of a stem cell transplant in T-ALL
- Stem cell transplant: Younger/fitter patients may be given a stem cell transplant (bone marrow transplant). This is performed using healthy stem cells from a donor. This is performed for T-ALL in case chemotherapy does not cure the disease.