Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Cells not working correctly begin to crowd out healthy blood cells in the bone marrow. Leukemia mostly occurs in adults over age 55, but it is also the most common childhood cancer. Every day in the United States, 148 people are diagnosed with leukemia. More than 327,520 Americans are living with leukemia.
There are several kinds of leukemia:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a type of blood cancer that occurs when the bone marrow produces too many immature white blood cells called lymphoblasts. These abnormal cells crowd out healthy blood cells, leading to symptoms like fatigue, infections, easy bruising or bleeding, and bone pain. Treatment for ALL typically involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy, CAR-T therapy and sometimes a stem cell transplant to replace diseased cells with healthy ones.
- Acute myeloid or myeloblastic leukemia (AML) is another type of blood cancer. It is the most common acute leukemia in adults. It occurs when the bone marrow produces too many abnormal myeloid cells, a type of white blood cell. These abnormal cells prevent the production of healthy blood cells, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, frequent infections, easy bruising or bleeding, and shortness of breath. Treatment for AML usually involves chemotherapy, sometimes combined with targeted therapy. Some patients also need a stem cell transplant, with the goal of eliminating the abnormal cells and restoring normal blood cell production.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a type of blood cancer that is characterized by the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells called myeloid cells in the bone marrow. Unlike acute leukemias, CML progresses more slowly, which is why it is called chronic. If untreated, it can be deadly. Common symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, night sweats, and an increased susceptibility to infections. Fortunately, excellent targeted treatments can help control the disease and improve the quality of life for patients.
- Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) is a disease that is characterized by the presence of too many immature white blood cells called myelocytes and monocytes in the bone marrow and blood. This leads to a disruption in normal blood cell production, similar to the other disorders above. Treatment for CMML aims to manage symptoms and improve quality of life. It may include supportive care measures, blood transfusions, targeted therapies, or, in some cases, a bone marrow transplant.
- Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is slow growing and can happen if your bone marrow makes too many B cells (lymphocytes). Lymphocytes fight infection. The excess B cells look hairy when viewed under a microscope. If diagnosed with HLL, your care will be managed by a lymphoma specialist.
- Large granular lymphocytic leukemia (LGL) is a rare form of leukemia, also managed by a lymphoma specialist, is chronic and slow growing.
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), also known as Myelodysplastic Neoplasms, refers to a group of disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. MDS primarily affects older adults. Due to the shortage of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, MDS patients may experience symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, frequent infections, easy bruising or bleeding, and anemia. Treatment for MDS depends on the specific subtype and severity of the condition. It may include supportive care, blood transfusions, growth factors, chemotherapy, or a stem cell transplant in some cases. The goal of treatment is to alleviate symptoms and improve blood cell production.
Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) are a group of disorders characterized by the overproduction of mature blood cells in the bone marrow. These conditions arise from genetic mutations in the hematopoietic stem cells, which are responsible for producing blood cells.
There are several types of myeloproliferative neoplasms, including:
- Polycythemia vera (PV): In PV, there is an excessive production of red blood cells. This leads to an increase in blood viscosity and a higher risk of blood clotting.
- Essential thrombocythemia (ET): ET involves the overproduction of platelets, which are important for blood clotting. Increased platelet counts can result in abnormal clotting or bleeding.
- Primary myelofibrosis (PMF): PMF is characterized by the progressive replacement of the bone marrow with fibrous scar tissue. This disrupts normal blood cell production and can lead to anemia, an enlarged spleen, and other complications.
Why Choose Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center?
Sylvester is an NCI-designated cancer center. The National Cancer Institute has recognized Sylvester for its outstanding work conducting research in its laboratories, treating patients in its clinics and hospitals, and reaching out to medically underserved communities with innovative prevention strategies.
Our hematology team has successfully treated more leukemia patients than any other South Florida provider. More experience in your exact cancer offers you better potential outcomes.
More cancer clinical trials than any other South Florida hospital. If appropriate for your cancer and stage, our clinical trials provide you with the very newest ways to treat and potentially cure your cancer.
Controlled, consistent bone marrow samples for diagnosis and treatment monitoring. We’ll get it right the first time. With our OnControl bone marrow hand-held sampling device, developed by one of our oncologists, we can take bone marrow samples in less than five minutes with less pain to you. As a result, you get a more accurate diagnosis.
Multidisciplinary care teams with nationally recognized expertise. Your care team is made up of experts in every single aspect of your disease.