Blood cancers are malignancies that attack the blood, lymphatic system, and bone marrow. There are three types of blood cancer: leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month; thus, I conducted an interview with an expert on those diseases as well as a patient who was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and is currently doing well.
Thomas Kipps, MD, PhD, is a specialist in hematology-oncology at the University of California, San Diego. He informed me that blood cancer patients are currently living significantly longer due to improved treatments. He is enthusiastic about monoclonal antibodies, which are now being administered to blood cancer victims together with chemotherapy. Monoclonal antibodies are substances that seek out and destroy cancerous cells without harming normal cells. He has found promising results with rituximab (Rituxan), which is a monoclonal antibody used in conjunction with chemotherapy. It is a potent medication ad can cause major side-effects; however, many blood cancer patients have significantly benefited from the drug. Dr. Kipps notes that a common form of adult leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, was previously classified as incurable. It is still considered incurable; however, with Rituxan therapy, many of these patients are enjoying years of remission, during which they enjoy good quality of life.
Donald Sutherland (no relation to the actor) was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia in 2005. His treatment regimen included Rituxan. Don is now 81 years young, doing great, and enjoying life to the fullest.
The term “leukemia” refers to an excess white blood cells in the blood. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow, which is the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia differs from acute lymphocytic leukemia in that it progresses more slowly. Despite that, some patients with the acute form can fare better following treatment than those with the chronic form. The term “lymphocytic” in chronic lymphocytic leukemia comes from the cells affected by the disease: a group of white blood cells called lymphocytes, which combat infection.