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Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

Post: #1
06-22-2009, 04:02 AM
member90340 Offline
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Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

When the majority of us are told of someone who has leukemia, we immediately recognize that this person has a cancer of the blood. What fewer of us know, however, is that leukemia is actually the name of a group of cancers that affect different groups of people, different types of blood cells in the body and at present, have very different survival rates following diagnosis and treatment. There are in fact, four different major types of leukemia that themselves can be further broken down. In particular, the four types are called Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), and Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML).

All of these cancers except ALL are mostly experienced by adults. ALL, however is mostly seen in young children, but is also sometimes seen in those over 65 years of age. The ALL and CML types of cancer are now highly treatable with 85-90% of those who receive treatment surviving more than 5 years following diagnosis. The exception is that ALL in adults is not as readily treated. In contrast, at the other end of the spectrum, AML, the most common form of adult leukemia, is a much less treatable form of blood cancer with only 40% of patients who receive treatment surviving beyond 5 years. One of the factors that makes AML so hard to treat is that a number of different chemically-based dysfunctions can result in the same condition.

With so many variations of leukemia, there are quite a number of directions in which researchers are headed in their attempts to understand the different forms of the disease and how best to treat each of them. In fact, progress is being made in understanding and better treating all forms of leukemia whether to further increase already reasonably successful treatments like those of ALL and CML or in the case of CLL and AML to seriously reduce the rate of mortality.

ALL Advances

Some of the latest research directed toward ALL is coming as a result of efforts to better understand the genetic factors affecting the disease and its treatment. One important finding made by researchers at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital has been the identification of specific mutations in the leukemia cells that can be used to predict the likelihood of the disease to return following treatment. This finding is valuable because it allows doctors to determine the most effective course of treatment for a given person based on their genetics. In addition, it also allows doctors to limit the use of radiation treatment to only those patients with more aggressive forms or return of the cancer.

In related efforts, researchers at Paterson Institute for Cancer Research have found a reason as to why one of the key ALL anti-cancer drugs is less effective in some patients. The researchers found that some of the patients have leukemia cells containing proteins that break down the cancer drug used to actually treat the leukemia. The discovery is very helpful because it tells the researchers that they must now work to modify the drug such that it is less susceptible to being broken down instead of doing its work to promote the death of the cancerous cells.

CML Advances

While the prognosis for most CML patients is good with the existing treatments, some 10% do not improve. One important finding from the Cancer Therapy & Research Center (CTRC) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has been a means of identifying the mutated stem cells growing within the bone marrow that will turn into the mature cancerous white blood cells associated with this type of leukemia. The identification of these stem cells is valuable because although current drugs might effectively kill the cancerous white blood cells, the survival of the stem cells means that the disease has not been eradicated and will return.

CLL Advances

Thought of as a leukemia that is incurable with known techniques, CLL is generally a slow progressing disease, but one form of CLL is very aggressive with rapid progression. Because of these variations of the condition, it is difficult to determine how best to treat patients. That being said, some research results from UC San Diego School of Medicine are promising because they suggest a way to tell the difference between the more rapidly developing form of the cancer and forms that develop more slowly.

In particular, the researchers found that higher levels of a specific enzyme in the blood were indicators of the more aggressive form of the disease. These results are useful in two ways: first in that the optimal therapy can be determined based on the type of CLL a patient has and second, researchers now have a new area of investigation to create drugs that will lower these blood enzyme levels and possibly aid in causing the death of the leukemia cells.

AML Advances

As the least effectively treated form of leukemia at the present time, research directed toward understanding AML is crucial. One finding of interest from The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center has been the identification of a means for preventing growth of leukemia cells by deactivating the cell's ability to respond to natural growth-promoting chemicals. These results are promising because they suggest a means of at least halting the growth of the tumors associated with this form of leukemia. The findings were positive enough that the drug developed to prevent the tumor growth is moving to initial drug trials.

General Leukemia Advances

While specific research is currently targeted directly at many of the individual forms of leukemia, some interesting research results have come that affect all forms of leukemia. One interesting finding from the University of California, San Francisco has been the identification of the gene that controls the rate of the stem cell production within the bone marrow. These stem cells can become any form of blood cell so a defect or absence of the gene controlling the cell growth rate can result in various forms of leukemia. The research result is very important because it means that the key to treating many forms of leukemia could be related to developing drugs to kill the mutated stem cells.

As a final valuable research result, the same work from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital on ALL has determined a means of chemically identifying the number of remaining cancerous cells following treatment. This determination of a means to measure what is called minimal residual disease (MRD) is incredibly valuable to patients because it allows the doctors to directly measure how effective a treatment has been and whether additional treatments are required. Without this ability to measure chemically, doctors must wait following treatment and visually inspect the blood cells to make a determination of the success of treatment. With the new approach, the wait can be eliminated and patients can be treated before the disease returns.

Related Links:

http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=61aa65cad7e70110VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD&vgnextchannel=59ab15faf7118010VgnVCM1000000e2015acRCRD
http://www.bio-medicine.org/medicine-news/Acute-Lymphoblastic-Leukemia-May-Attain-a-90-25-Cure-Rate-7213-1/
http://www.stjude.org/stjude/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=98d220e1fa2be110VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD&vgnextchannel=eea54cc6a671e110VgnVCM1000001e0215acRCRD
http://www.ctrc.net/about_us/news_room/newsrelease/releasedisplay.cfm?frame=Scientists%20identify%20molecular%20signature%20of%20le​ukemia%20stem%20cells.cfm
http://www.jci.org/articles/view/37977
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asparaginase
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronic_myelogenous_leukemia
http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2009/04/20/New-leukemia-biomarker-is-discovered/UPI-12001240249194/
http://www.mdanderson.org/news-and-publications/news/2009/researchers-find-drug-that-inhibits-acute-leukemia-cell-growth.html
http://news.ucsf.edu/releases/scientists-identify-key-gene-that-protects-against-leukemia/




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Post: #2
06-24-2009, 05:57 AM
member2573

 
Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

It is good to see progress in better detection of the disease when it is not showing high white cell counts.



We have experienced recurring leukemia twice in my extended family and in one case it was fatal. Believe me, it is very disheartening for the family to think that a loved one is free of cancer only to have it return when they getting their life put back together.



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Post: #3
07-04-2009, 03:56 PM
member2573

 
Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

Having any recurring condition is tragic and cancer has to be the worst. All the chemo and radiation wearing you down is brutal. Then you think things are good, but no.



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Post: #4
08-08-2009, 09:16 AM
member2573

 
Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

Only personalized cancer treatment using genetics is going to finally allow all cancers to be treated. Doctors just use a guess to make cocktails now. If they know which chemo is good becauase of genetics then they can pick the good ones for you to be cured.



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Post: #5
10-31-2011, 01:16 PM
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RE: Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

I got scared of further blood tests when I was diagnosed with below minimum RBC or red blood cells. I was much too low on red and over on the whites. I have 2nd skin discoloration patches on upper arms and back, a few on my chest; and prone to headaches, dizzy spells and when wounded, I seldom bleed. Sometimes I develop light bruises on my legs and upper thighs. I pray over a lot, though, and take ferrous sulfate with folic acid (self prescribed after reading books).

I was also suspected of having hypoglycemia; and didn't come back for further tests. Being a struggling solo parent to four makes it difficult for me to grab some extra budget (which I can't seem to reach); hence, the apprehensions.

I believe the burst of inspiration is what keeps me going. I'm afraid that if my overworked years catches up with me, I might have some illness that just can't take place yet. My kids will be devastated. Someone I know with similar symptoms died a couple of years ago.

My question - I read somewhere here that some leukemia cases develop so slowly. If that is the case, and it's left untreated, how many years approximately, is left for the patient?



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Post: #6
02-10-2013, 11:37 PM
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RE: Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

May God bless you Mommyjoyce. Giving to those who need you can increase your survival rate. Hang in there.



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Post: #7
02-08-2014, 10:57 AM
member98511 Offline
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RE: Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

When you say Leukemia is the cancer cells living in the blood. Exposure to chemicals and high doses of radiation is increases the risk of leukemia. When you expose to strong radiation it will effect your blood. Leaukemia is when the white blood cells is higher than red blood cells or what we call Blood Cells abnormalities. This is a cancer of white blood cells from which they develop. Leukemia cells do not function normally and cannot fight infection. in addtion of this the normal number of platelets and red blood cells may decreased this will leading to anemia and clotting problems.

So we should take good care of ourself and prevent radiation, and eat a lot of food with iron, fruits and vegetables.
Antioxidants is playing a special role to us to prevent leukemia.



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Post: #8
05-05-2016, 05:21 AM
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RE: Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

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Post: #9
06-26-2018, 07:15 AM
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RE: Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

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Post: #10
07-04-2018, 09:46 AM
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RE: Wrapping our Heads Around Leukemia

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