Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma

Treatment & Diagnosis

Leukemia

Treatment for acute and chronic leukemia is based on several factors including a patient’s overall health and medical history, the extent (severity) of the disease, and other individual factors. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, blood or bone marrow transplantation, biological therapy, or some combination of therapies.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors. For leukemia patients, radiation therapy is generally delivered externally through a machine. Often, patients with blood-related cancers receive radiation therapy in addition to chemotherapy.

Stem Cell Transplantation

Stem cell transplantation (also known as blood or bone marrow transplantation) is a procedure in which doctors replace a patient’s own diseased blood or marrow using the patient’s healthy blood or marrow (autologous) or blood or marrow from another person (allogenic). Sylvester has one of the largest blood and marrow transplant programs in the state. The unique needs of adult stem cell transplant patients treated for various types of cancer and hematological diseases, including leukemia, Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and multiple myeloma, are met by Sylvester’s Adult Stem Cell Transplant Program. Led by Krishna Komanduri, M.D., Kalish Family Chair in Stem Cell Transplantation and professor of medicine, microbiology and immunology, the program is accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT). Adult patients are treated in a brand new unit, with 10 specialized transplant beds, including four intensive care unit beds.

Biological Therapy

Biological therapy uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Physicians may also prescribe certain medications to prevent or treat damage to other systems of the body caused by leukemia treatment.

Lymphoma

Treatment for Hodgkin’s disease and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is based on several factors including a patient’s overall health and medical history and other individual factors. The choice of treatment depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Generally, treatment for patients with one of these blood-related cancers will include radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors. For leukemia patients, radiation therapy is generally delivered externally through a machine. Often, patients with blood-related cancers receive radiation therapy in addition to chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs to treat cancerous cells. In most cases, chemotherapy works by interfering with the cancer cell’s ability to grow or reproduce.

Myeloma

Multiple myeloma is difficult to cure. Generally, the objective of treatment for myeloma is to improve the quality of a patient’s life by controlling the symptoms and complications of the disease.

People who have multiple myeloma but do not have symptoms of the disease usually do not receive treatment. For these patients, the risks and side effects of treatment are likely to outweigh the benefits. However, these patients are watched closely, and they begin treatment when symptoms appear.

Patients who have symptoms of myeloma are generally treated with chemotherapy and sometimes, radiation therapy.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is the use of drugs to treat cancer. It is the main treatment for multiple myeloma. Doctors may prescribe two or more drugs that work together to kill myeloma cells. Many of these drugs are taken by mouth; others are injected into a blood vessel. Either way, the drugs travel through the bloodstream, reaching myeloma cells all over the body. These drugs are often given in cycles (a treatment period followed by a rest period) and generally do not require hospitalization for the patient.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is the use of high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and to shrink tumors. For myeloma patients, radiation therapy is generally delivered externally through a machine aimed at a tumor and the area close to it. Sometimes, patients with myeloma receive radiation therapy in addition to chemotherapy. The purpose of the radiation therapy is to help control the growth of tumors in the bones and to relieve the pain that these tumors cause.

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