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Leukemia

Get personalized care for leukemia from a team that supports you every step of the way.
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Care for every type of leukemia

Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that starts in your bone marrow, where several types of blood cells are made. When abnormal cells form in the bone marrow, they can then spread into your blood. Because leukemia often affects the white blood cells that fight off infections in your body, it can cause your immune system to not work as it should.

Many different types of leukemia blood cancer exist, and it can affect all ages. According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 30% of all children with cancer have leukemia. But overall, this blood cancer type is still more common in adults than it is in children.

No matter what type of leukemia you’re facing, our team is ready with support and care throughout diagnosis, treatment and survivorship. Contact a patient navigator today to get help navigating your leukemia journey.

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Why Baylor Scott & White for leukemia care

Our cancer programs have been caring for people with leukemia for decades. And we’re still committed to innovating the way we provide advanced blood cancer care to our communities.

From our holistic services to cancer research, we’re here with personalized care for your leukemia. Baylor University Medical Center, part of Baylor Scott & White Health, has one of the nation's oldest blood and marrow transplant programs and is the first North Texas provider to offer adult commercial use of CAR-T.

With a network of cancer care centers across North and Central Texas, we bring leukemia care to a location that’s convenient for you. If you need advanced care for your blood cancer, you’ll also have access to specialized programs and treatment options not available at every hospital. With us, you get a complete approach to care aimed at helping you treat leukemia better.

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Baylor Scott & White Health is the third largest network of cancer centers accredited by the Commission on Cancer.

Certain Baylor Scott & White Health locations are accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT) for quality in cellular therapy, including blood and marrow transplantation and immunotherapies.

Types of leukemia

Leukemia can affect different kinds of cells in your bone marrow and blood. Your type of leukemia depends on what blood cells are affected and how fast or slowly they’re spreading. While there are four common types of leukemia with their own set of risk factors and symptoms, several other rare types of this blood cancer can happen too.

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Acute lymphocytic leukemia—also known as acute lymphoblastic leukemia or acute lymphoid leukemia—affects a type of white blood cell in your immune system called lymphocytes. It develops in the bone marrow and blood and can be aggressive if not treated early.

Risk factors

ALL is the most common type of leukemia found in children, but it can develop in adults too. There is no known cause for ALL, but certain factors may increase your risk:

  • Previous exposure to chemotherapy and radiation
  • Certain genetic disorders
  • Being a child or adolescent
  • Older than 70
  • Being male
  • Race and ethnicity (more commonly found in white and Hispanic people)

Symptoms

There are several subtypes of acute lymphocytic leukemia. Some people may not show any symptoms, while others may experience some combination of:

  • Dizziness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Appearing pale
  • Frequent infections
  • Fevers
  • Bruising easily
  • Abnormal bleeding 
  • Night sweats
  • Pain in the bones or joints
  • Discomfort in the abdomen
  • Weight loss or decreased appetite
  • Wheezing, coughing or painful breathing 

These symptoms and risk factors could be present due to other illnesses not related to blood cancer, so see your doctor about your concerns.

Acute myeloid leukemia is a type of leukemia that starts in the bone marrow in myeloid cells. The term acute means this type of leukemia spreads more rapidly than other types of leukemia. When these abnormal cells start to multiply rapidly and spread in the blood, they can make it harder for normal, healthy blood cells to work.

Risk factors

There is no known cause for AML, but certain factors may increase your risk:

  • Exposure to certain chemicals
  • Aging
  • Being male
  • Smoking
  • Previous cancer treatment, including radiation
  • Other blood cancers
  • Genetic disorders
  • Familial risk/germline predisposition

Symptoms

Some people with AML may not show any symptoms, while others may experience:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Headaches
  • Frequent infections
  • Fiebre
  • Easily bruise
  • Prolonged bleeding
  • Frequent or severe nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Discomfort in bones or joints
  • Abdomen swelling

These symptoms and risk factors could be present due to other illnesses not related to blood cancer, so see your doctor about your concerns.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia occurs in lymphocytes, white blood cells that help your body fight infections. With CLL, these cancerous lymphocytes don’t work as they should. CLL can progress either slowly or quickly depending on the form it takes, and it is the most common kind of leukemia diagnosed in adults.

Risk factors

There is no known cause or obvious reason why CLL develops. Having a biological parent or sibling with the disease has increased the likelihood of developing CLL in a few cases, but the risk is low.

Symptoms

Many people with CLL don't display any symptoms. Instead, your doctor may suspect the disease based on abnormal blood test results from a routine physical. Over time, the following symptoms may develop:

  • Fatigue 
  • Night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Low-grade fevers
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Feeling full
  • Skin, lung or kidneys infections

These symptoms and risk factors could be present due to other illnesses not related to blood cancer, so see your doctor about your concerns.

Chronic myeloid leukemia—also called chronic myelogenous leukemia, chronic granulocytic leukemia and chronic myelocytic leukemia—starts when abnormal cells form in the bone marrow where blood cells are produced. This type of leukemia is less common and happens more often in older adults.

Risk factors

There is no known cause for CML. Your risk of developing CML increases if you are:

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  • Getting older
  • Exposed to radiation

Symptoms

Unlike acute types of leukemia, CML is slower to grow and may take more time to cause symptoms. Often, patients learn they have CML after a routine physical exam or a blood test. People with CML may not have any symptoms at first, but gradually may develop:

  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fiebre
  • Bone pain
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs
  • Night sweats

These symptoms and risk factors could be present due to other illnesses not related to blood cancer, so see your doctor about your concerns.

Risk factors and causes of leukemia

Research has helped us understand some of the causes of leukemia. However, there’s still more the learn about exactly why leukemia develops.

While leukemia may have many causes, some of the known risk factors include:

  • Exposure to radiation or certain chemicals, such as benzene
  • Family history, such as a sibling, parent or child who had leukemia
  • Smoking
  • Being male
  • Previous treatment with chemo or radiation for other cancers
  • Some genetic conditions, such as Down syndrome
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Diagnosing leukemia

A blood test called a complete blood count (CBC) is often the first step to diagnosing leukemia. A CBC measures the levels of different cells in your blood, including red blood cells and white blood cells. Your CBC lets your doctor know if you have levels of blood cells that aren’t in the normal range.

Your doctor may also test your bone marrow. A bone marrow aspiration takes a sample of marrow fluid. A bone marrow biopsy takes a sample of your bone with the fluid in it. These samples are taken using a hollow needle, typically in your hip bone. Then, the samples are tested in the lab. Other tests may be required, depending on your results.

If your tests show you have leukemia, our team of blood cancer specialists can help you plan the next steps for your specific diagnosis. And our patient navigators are here to provide you with emotional support and guidance for your whole cancer journey.

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Treatments for leukemia

Our advanced cancer care programs offer many options for leukemia treatment. Because every person—and every leukemia—is different, our team will tailor treatment to your specific type of leukemia and personal health factors.

Talk to your doctor about your specific diagnosis and the best treatment approach for you.

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  • Autologous Blood Stem Cell Transplant
  • Trasplante de sangre y médula
  • CAR-T Therapy
  • Quimioterapia
  • Ensayos clínicos
  • Differentiating Agents
  • Immunotherapy
  • Monoclonal Antibody Therapy
  • El manejo del dolor
  • Terapia de radiación
  • Targeted Therapy

Autologous Blood Stem Cell Transplant

An autologous blood stem cell transplant uses cells found in your own blood. These healthy stem cells are removed before treatment and are then placed back in the blood after other leukemia treatments.

Trasplante de sangre y médula

A blood and marrow transplant (BMT) may be an option for leukemia. This procedure injects healthy marrow stem cells from a donor into your bloodstream to help your body make its own healthy cells.

More on BMT

CAR-T Therapy

CAR-T therapy is a treatment option for some types of leukemia blood cancer, such as acute lymphocytic leukemia. This type of immunotherapy uses your own T cells, a kind of white blood cell, and reprograms them to fight leukemia cells.

More on CAR-T Therapy

Quimioterapia

Several chemo drugs can help destroy leukemia blood cancer cells. Your team will choose the best chemotherapy drug or group of drugs to fight your specific type of leukemia.

More on Chemotherapy

Ensayos clínicos

Through Baylor Scott & White Research Institute, we offer innovative research and clinical trials for leukemia. Learn more about our cancer research or search for a clinical trial for your specific type of leukemia.

CANCER RESEARCH FIND A CLINICAL TRIAL

Differentiating Agents

This type of therapy aims to help leukemia cells change into a more mature state so that they no longer multiply at a fast rate. It can slow down their growth.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy uses your own immune system to fight leukemia. Cells are taken from your blood and reprogrammed in the lab. These new cancer-fighting cells are then infused back into your blood to attack leukemia cells.

More on Immunotherapy

Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

Your immune system makes antibodies, which stick to cells that don’t belong in your body and attract other immune cells to attack them. Monoclonal antibodies act in the same way but are made in the lab. They are designed to attach to your specific type of leukemia blood cancer cells so your body can fight them better.

More on Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

El manejo del dolor

Pain is a common side effect of leukemia and leukemia treatments. Our pain management services offer many options to reduce pain and help you better cope with leukemia treatment.

PAIN MANAGEMENT SERVICES

Terapia de radiación

Radiation therapy uses beams of energy to damage leukemia cells so they can’t duplicate. You may have radiation along with chemotherapy, or it may be used before a blood or marrow transplant.

More on Radiation Therapy

Targeted Therapy

This type of therapy targets distinct genetic changes only found in your type of leukemia. By blocking certain proteins or affecting specific parts of the leukemia blood cancer cells, it prevents them from growing.

Find leukemia cancer care

Through our Texas cancer centers, you have more care options for leukemia closer to home. Find a leukemia treatment location that’s convenient for you.

*Certain treatments may not be available at every location. Your cancer care team will work to create a treatment plan convenient for you.

Leukemia support

We know leukemia affects you in many ways. That’s why we care for every aspect of your well-being. Whether it’s coping with the emotions of a diagnosis or thriving after treatment, we offer complete cancer care for every stage of leukemia. Connect with a patient navigator, support group, resource center or our survivorship program today.

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