Childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) tests for diagnosis
If there’s a possibility your child could have ALL, they’ll have tests to confirm their diagnosis.
Tests are also done after diagnosis to find out more information about the type of ALL and how well the treatment is working. The results will help doctors decide how much treatment your child needs to get rid of the ALL, with the least side effects.
At any time, you can ask your healthcare team to tell you why they’re doing a certain test and what the results mean.
Here’s a list of the tests your child is likely to have. Some are blood tests, others are done using a sample of your child’s bone marrow or a sample of cerebrospinal fluid.
Common tests for childhood leukaemia
This measures the number and type of red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets in a blood sample and shows if there are any leukaemia cells present.
Blood cells are made in the bone marrow, so there may be leukaemia cells there even if the blood sample is normal. Bone marrow samples are taken so doctors can do a range of tests.
A lumbar puncture takes a sample of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – the fluid around the spinal cord and brain - and looks for leukaemia cells in it.
These look for anything unusual in the genes in leukaemia cells from a bone marrow sample.
An MRD test measures how well your child is responding to treatment. It’s done using cells from a bone marrow sample. Your child will have an MRD test when they’re first diagnosed, and at other times during their treatment. It’s a very accurate test that helps doctors decide how much treatment your child will need.
After your child is diagnosed with ALL, they will need more tests to monitor the leukaemia cells, measure their response to treatment and check for possible complications and infections. These tests include:
- liver function test (a blood test)
- urea and electrolytes test (a blood test)
- scans including X-ray, CT, MRI, and ECHO heart scan
Find out more about tests for childhood leukaemia.
I wish it were me...
Melody shares her thoughts on her son Andrew's diagnosis aged 3