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10

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Version 1.2017

1

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia

About ALL

Figure 3

Chromosomes and

genes in cells

Genes are coded instructions

in cells for making new

cells and controlling how

cells behave. Genes are

a part of DNA, which is

bundled into long strands

called chromosomes. Every

normal cell has 23 pairs of

chromosomes.

Normal blood cells grow and then divide to make

new red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets

as the body needs them. When normal blood cells

grow old or get damaged, they die. New blood cells

are then made to replace the old ones. In a person

with ALL, too many lymphoblasts are made.

Inside of all cells are coded instructions for building

new cells and controlling how cells behave. These

instructions are called genes. Genes are a part

of DNA (

d

eoxyribo

n

ucleic

a

cid). DNA is grouped

together into long strands called chromosomes.

See Figure 3.

Changes (mutations) in genes

cause normal lymphoblasts to become cancer cells.

Researchers are still trying to learn what causes

genes to change and cause cancer.

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