What is Leukemia?
Leukemia begins in blood-forming tissues like the bone marrow. Mutations in the cell’s DNA causes overproduction of abnormal cells that spread through the body in the bloodstream. More than 80,000 cases were diagnosed in 2020. Another nearly 400,000 people in the US are currently living or are in remission for leukemia. Since the 1960 to 1963, the 5-year survival rate for leukemia has more than quadrupled from 14% to 65%. Some leukemias are more common in children, and others are more common in adults. There are many subtypes of leukemia, the most common include:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
- Hairy cell leukemia (HCL)
- Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)
Symptoms from leukemia can vary based on the exact subtype, but generally they include:
- Fatigue and feeling of tiredness
- Easy bleeding and bruising
- Night sweats
- Bone pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
The symptoms can be signs of other diseases or sicknesses, but you should see a doctor if you experience these symptoms.
What Causes Leukemia?
Leukemia is thought to happen when certain blood cells gain mutations in their DNA. These abnormalities then cause the cell to grow and divide at a faster rate than healthy cells, which outnumber the healthy cells in the bone marrow and lead to fewer heathy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.
Leukemia Risk Factors
Due to the many subtypes, the risk factors for certain leukemias can differ. Some risk factors for leukemia include:
- Previous treatment with radiation or chemotherapy
- Family history of leukemia
- Smoking tobacco
- Exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins
- Certain genetic disorders including down syndrome
There is no way to prevent the development of leukemia, but you can avoid risk factors to decrease your overall risk. It is suggested to avoid smoking and exposure to harmful chemicals. Like other cancer types, maintaining a healthy weight by eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly can help decrease your risk for developing leukemia.
Leukemia treatments are determined based on a patient’s age, overall health, type of leukemia and whether or not it has spread to other parts of the body. Discuss your options with your doctor to determine which treatment can be the most beneficial for your individual cancer case. Common treatments for leukemia include:
- Chemotherapy is often used for many leukemia patients
- Biological therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Bone marrow transplant to help repair damaged bone marrow
- Clinical trials for new and alternative treatment methods
Leukemia Clinical Trials
Leukemia clinical trials work in researching to find more effective and safer treatments by studying new drugs or existing drugs but with different doses and methods of delivery, such as liposomal encapsulation. Over the last few years, research done by clinical trials has helped the overall survival of leukemia patients and has led to advances and understanding of the genetic make-up of leukemia and new ways to treat it.
Clinical trials are beneficial in that they you are first in line for treatments and procedures that have yet to be approved into standard care treatment, and it also contributes to overall leukemia research. By joining a clinical trial, you are not only helping yourself, but also future leukemia patients. If you are considering joining a clinical trial, consult with your oncologist.
With just a few clicks, you can see your clinical trial matches now. Click here to use our advanced clinical trial match tool.
How Do We Help Leukemia Patients?
Massive Bio offers clinical trial matching services an individual cancer treatment analysis for leukemia patients. Our patient advocates work closely with patients to gather information on their current medical status, and then will provide a list of options from available cancer clinical trials close to your home.
Our team can also provide a comprehensive case analysis through our Virtual Tumor Board services from cancer specialists. The Virtual Tumor Board (VTB) is made up of highly specialized oncologists from nationally-recognized Cancer Centers of Excellence. In just 7-10 days after receiving your medical records, we can get you a treatment plan without having to travel far distances and use your valuable time.