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|Read more about the region's first Blood and Marrow Transplant unit located at Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Cancer Institute.|
To hear that you or a loved one has leukemia can be frightening. Here’s what you should know about the disease whether you are among the 43,000 Americans diagnosed each year, seeking out information for others, or simply looking to get the facts when it comes to this aggressive, yet treatable, form of blood cancer.
The types of leukemia are categorized by the type of cell affected and the rate of cell growth. Acute leukemia grows rapidly with a proliferation of immature blood cells in the bone marrow. This condition can be life-threatening, because the excessive, immature blood cells in the marrow interfere with the production of normal blood cells.
Therefore, patients with acute leukemia often suffer from anemia, infection, and/or bleeding. In addition, the immature blood cells can become numerous enough to plug up small blood vessels and block the blood flow to vital organs, a condition known as leukostasis.
Chronic leukemia generally grows more slowly than acute leukemia and occurs when there are excess mature blood cells in the blood and/or bone marrow. It mainly affects those between ages 40 and 70.
Leukemia symptoms vary, depending on the type and severity of the disease. However, here are some of the more common symptoms for which you should seek out medical attention:
Treatment for leukemia is not a “one size fits all” approach and depends on many factors, including: age, overall health, and the type of leukemia. Patients work with their doctors to develop a personalized treatment plan, which often includes chemotherapy. In some cases, blood/marrow transplantation is recommended.
In 2013, Dr. Jonathan Gerber, the director of the leukemia program, and Dr. Michael Grunwald, a leukemia specialist, were recruited from Johns Hopkins to Carolinas HealthCare System's Levine Cancer Institute to establish a leukemia program within the Department of Hematologic Oncology and Blood Disorders. With the opening of the Charlotte region’s first and only blood and marrow transplant unit in early 2014, the leukemia program now provides cutting-edge treatment options and comprehensive care for patients with acute and chronic leukemias, myelodysplastic syndrome, and myeloproliferative neoplasms.