Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Tests and procedures used to diagnose acute lymphocytic leukemia include:

  • Blood tests. A blood test may reveal too many white blood cells, not enough red blood cells and not enough platelets. A blood test may also show the presence of blast cells — immature cells normally found in the bone marrow but not circulating in the blood.
  • Bone marrow test. During bone marrow aspiration, a needle is used to remove a sample of bone marrow from the hipbone. The sample is sent to a lab for testing to look for leukemia cells. Doctors in the lab will classify blood cells into specific types based on their size, shape and other features. They also look for certain changes in the cancer cells and determine whether the leukemia cells began from the B lymphocytes or T lymphocytes. This information helps your doctor develop a treatment plan.
  • Imaging tests. Imaging tests such as X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan or ultrasound scan may help determine whether cancer has spread to the brain and spinal cord or other parts of the body.
  • Spinal fluid test. A lumbar puncture test, also called a spinal tap, may be used to collect a sample of spinal fluid — the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. The sample is tested to see whether cancer cells have spread to the spinal fluid.
Sep. 15, 2012

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.