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Resources available for Coloradans diagnosed with blood cancer

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Posted at 10:45 AM, Sep 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-17 20:23:31-04

This article is the part of a monthly series of stories focused on cancer issues. Denver7 is proud to partner with the American Cancer Society, Cancer Support Community, Colorado Cancer Coalition and Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at HealthONE to bring you these stories, tips and resources.

If you, a family member, or someone you know has recently been diagnosed with blood cancer, or if you are simply curious about learning more, you may have many questions: What are the common treatments? What are the different types of blood cancer? What are the different stages? Learn more about the three most common types of blood cancer – leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma – as well as their treatment options below.

Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and affects red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. In patients with leukemia, cancerous blood cells form in the bone marrow. These cancerous cells crowd out and prevent new, healthy blood cells from forming.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, or CLL, starts in the while blood cells in the bone marrow. CLL mainly affects older adults.

Acute lymphocytic Leukemia, sometimes called ALL, starts in the bone marrow, where blood cells are made. It is more common in children than adults. The risk is highest in children younger than 5.

Other types of cancer that start in lymphocytes are known as lymphomas and can be either non-Hodgkin lymphoma or Hodgkin lymphoma. While leukemias like ALL mainly affect the blood and bone marrow, lymphomas affect the lymph nodes or other organs, they may also involve the bone marrow.

A leukemia diagnosis can be acute or chronic; acute means it is a fast-growing cancer and chronic means it is slow-growing and gradually gets worse over time. The most common types of leukemia are acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma begins in the cells of the lymph system, a part of the immune system, which helps your body fight infection and disease. Lymph tissue is found throughout the body and is connected through a network of vessels.

Common types of lymphoma include Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most treatable forms of cancer and occurs when a change in a type of white blood cell, called a lymphocyte, causes it to become a cancerous lymphoma cell. The lymphoma cells form masses and gather in parts of the body. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may form from different types of white blood cells, and can be fast-growing or slow-growing.

Myeloma

Myeloma is a cancer that begins in the bone marrow and affects plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells that make antibodies to help your immune system fight off infections. When myeloma is found in the marrow of multiple bones in your body, it is called multiple myeloma. More than 90 percent of myeloma patients are diagnosed with multiple myeloma.

Treatment

The best blood cancer treatment for you will be determined by your specific type of cancer, overall health, and the rate of progression of your disease. It is important to let your care team know when you experience new symptoms or side effects throughout your treatment.

Advances in immunotherapy treatments, including CAR T-cell therapy and new molecular targeted therapies, have demonstrated promising responses, and blood and marrow transplants have expanded to broader populations with multiple stem cell sources.

Common treatments for blood cancers include:

  • Watchful waiting
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Stem cell transplantation
  • Blood transfusion
  • Clinical trials

Children

CHIL Leukemia is the most common type of blood cancer in children, adolescents and young adults. Lymphoma is also a blood cancer that can affect this patient population.

  • Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and affects red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system, which is a part of the body’s immune system.

Leukemia can be acute or chronic. Most cases of pediatric leukemia are acute, meaning that they tend to be aggressive. Common types of childhood leukemia include acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), or a hybrid lineage leukemia, which has features of ALL and AML. The most common type of chronic leukemia in children is called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Common signs and symptoms for any of these types of blood cancers in children include:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Easy bruising or excessive bleeding
  • Fever
  • Frequent infections
  • Pain

If there is any reason to believe your child has a type of blood cancer, your doctor may perform blood tests or send you to the emergency room. Your doctor will connect you with a blood cancer specialist for diagnosis and treatment.
Childhood blood cancers are typically treated with chemotherapy. Some patients may require radiation therapy or targeted drug therapy. A stem cell transplant/bone marrow transplant may be considered.

Colorado Blood Cancer Institute

The Colorado Blood Cancer Institute (CBCI), a part of the Sarah Cannon Cancer Institute at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center. Our specially trained hematologists are committed to advancing science and care for patients with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Having performed more than 4,680 transplants, Colorado Blood Cancer Institute is the largest and most experienced full-service blood and marrow transplant program in Colorado and among the top programs in the country. CBCI is accredited by the Foundation for Accreditation of Cellular Therapies (FACT), the global standard for top quality patient care in cellular therapies. We work closely with our physician colleagues from New Mexico to Montana to provide patients with nationally recognized care and access to the most innovative clinical trials.

What sets us a part

  • Our physician team has more than 150 years of combined experience in treating blood cancers
  • Multidisciplinary teams work together to provide the best treatment plan for you
  • All of your care is provided in one, convenient location
  • Care options tailored to each patient
  • Access to innovative Clinical trials
  • Our commitment to patient safety and providing outstanding care to every patient

Learn more about our service lines