Leukemia - Acute Lymphoblastic - ALL - Childhood: Symptoms and Signs

Approved by the Cancer.Net Editorial Board, 11/2022

ON THIS PAGE: You will find out more about changes and other things that can signal a problem that may need medical care. Use the menu to see other pages.

Children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may experience the following symptoms or signs. Symptoms are changes that you can feel in your body. Signs are changes in something measured, like by taking your blood pressure or doing a lab test. Together, symptoms and signs can help describe a medical problem. Sometimes, children with ALL do not have any of the symptoms and signs described below. Or, the cause of a symptom or sign may be a medical condition that is not cancer.

The early signs of ALL can look like the flu or other common illnesses. When 1 or more of these symptoms last for longer than you would expect, or you are worried about a symptom or sign on this list, please talk with your child's doctor.

  • Frequent infections

  • A fever that doesn’t go away

  • Feeling weak and tired all the time

  • Bone pain

  • Swollen lymph nodes (for example, in the neck, under the arms, or in the groin)

  • Paleness

  • Bruising or bleeding easily

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Headache

  • Enlarged liver or spleen

If you are concerned about any changes your child experiences, please talk with your child’s doctor. Your doctor will ask how long and how often your child has been experiencing the symptom(s), in addition to other questions. This is to help figure out the cause of the problem, which is called a diagnosis.

If ALL is diagnosed, relieving symptoms remains an important part of cancer care and treatment. Managing symptoms may also be called "palliative care" or "supportive care." It is often started soon after diagnosis and continued throughout treatment. Be sure to talk with your child’s health care team about the symptoms your child experiences, including any new symptoms or a change in symptoms.

The next section in this guide is Diagnosis. It explains what tests may be needed to learn more about the cause of the symptoms. Use the menu to choose a different section to read in this guide.