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Leukemia and Lymphoma – The “Liquid Tumors”

Health professionals often refer to leukemia and lymphoma as “liquid tumors”.   Also called blood cancers, these cancers can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells and the lymphatic system.

Every 4 minutes, 1 person in the United States is diagnosed with a blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.   Leukemia and lymphoma are often grouped together and considered related cancers because they probably all result from acquired mutations to the DNA of a single lymph- or blood-forming stem cell.

Common treatments for leukemia and lymphoma

In the past decade, several new drugs have greatly improved rates of blood cancer cure and remission.

  • Chemotherapy - The primary form for the treatment of blood, lymphatic and bone marrow cancers is chemotherapy. Usually these drugs are given into the bloodstream intravenously (IV).    Adriamycin, Vincristine, and Cyclophosphamide are examples of chemotherapy used to treat blood cancers.
  • Biological therapy -Works by helping your immune system recognize and attack blood cancer cells. Rituximab is a monoclonal antibody that is approved to treat Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
  • Targeted therapy – Uses drugs that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules involved in tumor growth. Examples of targeted therapy used to treat blood cancers are Dasatinib and Nalotinib.
  • Radiation therapy – Uses X-rays or other high-energy beams to damage leukemia cells and stops their growth.
  • Stem cell transplant – Is a procedure to replace your diseased bone marrow with healthy bone marrow.

In addition to standard treatments, the Hematologic Malignancies-BMT Clinical Research program at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center also provides those diagnosed with a blood cancer the opportunity to participate in clinical trials.  A clinical trial is a research study designed to test the safety and effectiveness of new treatments for cancer. Every cancer-fighting drug and therapy available to doctors today had to be tested in a clinical trial before it could be used routinely on patients. If you are interested in participating in a clinical study, please visit UMClinicalStudies.org to learn more about what trials are available.

The University of Michigan has several clinics which offer treatment and assistance to those diagnosed with hematologic malignancies:

Do you have additional questions about leukemia or lymphoma?  Please leave a comment here or contact the Cancer AnswerLine™ at 800-865-1125 for assistance and resources.

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