At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers our doctors have been influential in pioneering groundbreaking new therapies that offer unprecedented hope to patients with blood cancers like leukemia.
Leukemias are cancers of white blood cells that occur in the blood and bone marrow. When leukemia develops, bone marrow makes too many abnormal, immature white blood cells that crowd out other, healthy blood cells.
Two main kinds of white blood cells – lymphoid and myeloid- can give rise to leukemias. Leukemias are categorized by which type of blood cell they arise from and how quickly they progress. Fast-growing leukemias are called acute, while slower-growing leukemias are called chronic.
Clinical research trials represent some of the most advanced treatment options. Click here to learn more.
There are two major types of acute leukemias:
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) is the most common type of acute leukemia and occurs most often in adults. About 13,500 new cases are diagnosed each year. AML is very aggressive; if left untreated, it is often fatal in a few months.
- Acute Lymphocyte Leukemia (ALL): This type occurs most often in children and young adults but can occur in older adults as well. About 6,000 cases of ALL are diagnosed each year. Like AML, ALL usually requires immediate therapy with complex chemotherapy regimens.
The two major types of chronic leukemia are chronic myeloid leukemia (CML and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
- CML is a disease in which the bone marrow makes too many myeloid blood cells; these cells are more mature than the leukemia cells in AML. CML is almost universally caused by an acquired chromosomal mutation in the cells, resulting in an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. If untreated, CML leads to acute leukemia and is fatal in 3-5 years. Fortunately, many new and highly effective drug therapies have been developed since 2000, allowing most patients to achieve remission and lead relatively normal lives.
- CLL is the most common leukemia. It is a cancer of mature lymphocytes. It tends to occur in older adults, as more than half of patients are over age 70. It takes a slower course than many other leukemias, and many patients can be observed for years without requiring treatment. In recent years, many new and effective therapies have been developed for patients with CLL. In fact, many of our patients at RMCC have had the opportunity to participate in clinical trials leading to the development of these new therapies. Though conventional chemotherapy still has a significant role in the management of CLL, newer targeted therapies are becoming more widely used.
We begin each patient’s personalized treatment with a precise diagnosis. Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers is one of only a few community oncology centers that features on-site flow cytometry, a test used to diagnose blood cancers. Our on-site flow cytometry provides rapid turnaround within 24 hours, allowing for quick and reliable diagnosis of blood cancers.
RESEARCH AND CLINICAL TRIALS
At Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers, advancing cancer care through research and innovation is part of our mission. As part of the national US Oncology network, we are able to provide access to the latest therapies available through clinical trials.
RMCC’s oncology researchers and their patients have been instrumental in developing new therapies that have transformed treatment and prognosis for leukemias.
Currently, we are researching emerging therapies and therapy combinations for many types of leukemias. To see a full list of our current clinical trials for leukemia, please go here.