Hagop Kantarjian, M.D. leads the world’s largest leukemia program, known for innovative approaches, leading-edge research and personalized care.
With 25 world-renowned and highly experienced physicians dedicated to the treatment of leukemia, MD Anderson's Leukemia Center is proud to be the largest practice of leukemia experts in the world. Using a comprehensive team approach, we work together to give you customized care that includes the most-advanced diagnostic methods and treatments.
As a foremost treatment program for leukemia, we offer access to numerous innovative new therapies and investigational agents that may help increase your chances for successful treatment. Many of these are not found in other centers. We have the full range of services needed to ensure comprehensive, yet specialized care.
Successful leukemia treatment begins with accurate and precise diagnosis. As many as 15% of leukemia patients have been misdiagnosed before they come to MD Anderson. We have the expertise and experience gained from being one of the most active programs in the world, and our specialized pathologists are highly experienced in diagnosing leukemia.
Our approach to leukemia is customized especially for you; we do not take a one-size-fits-all approach. Our first step is to carefully evaluate your risk factors to determine if treatment is necessary. If it is, we recommend the most advanced therapy with the least impact on your body.
Whether you are treated as an in-patient or out-patient, our comprehensive program offers all the services needed to care for leukemia and its impact on your body, such as infections and bleeding issues. We strive to accomplish as much care as possible on an out-patient basis. Because we know your time is valuable, we offer a complete on-site lab and “fast track” clinic for timely and efficient outpatient care. If hospitalization is needed, our expert staff is specially trained to take care of complexities that may arise.
MD Anderson is known internationally for developments in the treatment of leukemia. In fact, we have helped pioneer many treatments, including decitabine (Dacogen®), dasatinib (Sprycel®), nilotinib (Tasigna®), imatinib mesylate (Gleevec) and clofarabine (Clolar®).
And we are constantly striving to find new and better ways to fight leukemia. We are one of the few cancer centers in the nation to house a prestigious federally funded SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) program. This means we are able to offer a wide range of
Many times, leukemia does not have symptoms in the early stages. When it does have signs, they vary from person to person and according to the type of leukemia. If you do have symptoms, they may include:
Symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukemia may also include painless lumps under the skin in the groin, underarm or neck, and/or pain under the ribs.
These symptoms do not always mean you have leukemia. However, it is important to discuss any symptoms with your doctor, since they may signal other health problems.
Accurate and precise diagnosis of leukemia is essential to effective treatment. As many as 5% to 15% of leukemia patients have been misdiagnosed before they come to MD Anderson.
We have the expertise and experience gained from being one of the most active programs in the world. Our hematopathologists (doctors who specialize in leukemia) are among the world’s most experienced and skilled experts.
Diagnosis of leukemia is based on the results of blood and bone marrow tests, including bone marrow aspiration and bone marrow biopsy.
As one of the world's leading leukemia programs, MD Anderson's Leukemia Center brings together internationally renowned physicians with a specialized support team to customize your care. These highly experienced experts communicate and collaborate often, ensuring you receive comprehensive care.
The Leukemia Center offers a full range of the latest and most-advanced treatment options, including new approaches and investigational agents that may increase your chance for successful treatment. More than 150 clinical trials for leukemia, many not found at any other cancer centers, are available. These trials offer innovative treatments including targeted therapies, vaccines and stem cell transplants.
If you are diagnosed with leukemia, your doctor will discuss the best options to treat it. This depends on several factors, including the type of leukemia, your age and your general health.
Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you're healthy and don't have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are highest.
Unfortunately, no standardized screening tests have been shown to improve leukemia outcomes. However, here at MD Anderson, we're working to develop screening tests for those at risk. If you have risk factors, especially one of the inherited disorders listed below, talk to your doctor about the need for testing.
Anything that increases your chance of getting leukemia is a risk factor. Although the specific cause of leukemia is not known, scientists suspect that viral, genetic, environmental or immunologic factors may be involved. These include:
Viruses: Some viruses cause leukemia in animals, but in humans viruses cause only one rare type of leukemia. Even if a virus is involved, leukemia is not contagious. It cannot spread from one person to another. There is no increased occurrence of leukemia among people such as friends, family and caregivers who have close contact with leukemia patients.
Inherited disorders: Rarely, genetic changes that may increase chances of developing leukemia run in families.
Environmental factors: High-dose radiation and exposure to certain toxic chemicals have been directly related to leukemia. But this has been true only in extreme cases, such as atomic bomb survivors in Nagasaki and Hiroshima or industrial workers exposed to benzene. Exposure to ordinary X-rays, like chest X-rays, is not believed to be cause leukemia.
Immune-system deficiencies: These appear to put people at greater risk for cancer because of the body's decreased ability to resist foreign cells. There is evidence that patients treated for other types of cancer with some types of chemotherapy and/or high-dose radiation therapy may later develop leukemia.
Smoking tobacco may be a risk factor for acute myeloid leukemia (AML).
These factors may play a part in a small percentage of leukemia cases. But for most patients, the cause of leukemia is not known.
Not everyone with risk factors gets leukemia. However, if you have risk factors, it's a good idea to discuss them with your doctor.