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T-ALL affects T-lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell that makes antibodies that help your body fight infections) whereas ALL usually affects B-lymphocytes.  

About a fifth (20%) of people with ALL have T-ALL.

T-ALL happens when your T-cells don’t develop properly, grow too fast, and stop the bone marrow from producing healthy blood cells.

What causes T-ALL?

It’s not clear exactly what causes T-ALL, but we know T-ALL mainly affects younger people and it's more common in men than women.

T-ALL usually develops quickly so you'll need to start treatment straight away.

T-ALL symptoms and diagnosis

The symptoms of T-ALL include frequent infections, unusual bleeding and bruising, extreme tiredness and swellings in the neck or the middle of the chest (which can cause facial swelling, chest discomfort, breathlessness or a persistent dry cough). Everyone is different, so it’s important to remember that not everyone will have the same symptoms.

If your doctor thinks you have T-ALL, you’ll have blood tests and a bone marrow test to find out whether you have leukaemia and what type it is. You might also have other tests such as a lumbar puncture and X-rays or scans.

T-ALL treatment

People with T-ALL will be treated with chemotherapy and steroid medication first. After this, you're likely to have lower-dose chemotherapy for two to three years or you may be offered a stem cell transplant and/or radiotherapy.

If you experience a relapse (the cancer comes back) you may need more chemotherapy with different drugs. You may also be offered a stem cell transplant with radiotherapy.

> For more information look at our fact sheet on T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL)


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