What is leukemia
Leukemia is a type of cancer that develops in the blood or bone marrow. Depending on the speed of the growth of the leukemia and where it develops, the leukemia can develop into several types such as Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL). If the leukemia begins with acute, this means the cancer is developing at a rapid state and the cancer is developing at an earlier cell stage. Whereas if you have chronic leukemia, this means the cancer is developing at slower speed and the cells are fully developed but are not normal. Additionally, the difference between myeloid and lymphocytic is the origination of the cancer. For myeloid, the cancer begins in the bone marrow and for lymphocytic, the cancer begins in the cell stage of the bone marrow. Leukemia is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States and primarily impacts patients over the age of 55.
How common is leukemia
Leukemia is one of the most common cancers in the U.S with approximately 33% of leukemia being Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia per the American Cancer Society.1
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) typically impacts younger adults and children and have better success rates than older adults. It is estimated there will be 5,970 new cases of ALL in 2017.1 A person may be more susceptible to ALL if they have the following risk factors: radiation exposure, genetic disorder, ethnicity, and family history.
Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) primarily affects older adults over the age of 65 and more males than females. 21,380 new cases are expected for the year of 2017.1 The risk factors for AML are the following but not limited to: previous cancer therapies, smoking, chemical exposures, radiation exposure, and genetic disorder.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) primarily affects older adults as well over the age of 55 with men being most frequently diagnosed. In 2017, it is expected there will be 20,110 new cases.1 Chemical exposures (more specifically Agent Orange), race/ethnicity, family history and gender are some of this risk factors associated CLL which may increase likelihood of cancer.
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is a rare type of cancer that is more common among men than women and typically impacts older adults over the age of 65. 8,950 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in 2017.2 The risk factors most known for CML are radiation exposure, age and gender per the American Cancer Society.
Questions regarding your leukemia therapy
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1 https://www.cancer.org/cancer/chronic-myeloid-leukemia.html, accessed 5/11/18
2 https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/leuks.html, accessed 7/27/17
What are the symptoms of leukemia
The symptoms for leukemia are similar for the four main types of leukemia (acute lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia). As with other types of illnesses, these symptoms may be common with those illnesses as well. If the symptoms persist for a longer period of time, they may be signs of leukemia.
Below are some common symptoms for leukemia:
- Enlarged or swollen lymph nodes
- Weight loss
- Sweating at night
- Shortness of breath
- Continuous infections
How is it diagnosed
Diagnosing leukemia is dependent on a few factors such as how quickly the leukemia is progressing, cell formation in the blood, and tests performed from the bone marrow. Further sub-testing may occur to determine the type of leukemia the patient may have. Below is a list of tools that may be utilized in diagnosing leukemia and the further subtype:
- Physical exam
- Blood tests
- Bone marrow testing
Accredo, a specialty pharmacy for leukemia, dispenses specialty and non-specialty leukemia medications including (but not limited to):
|Bendeka® (bendamustine hydrochloride)||Teva|
|Besponsa® (inotuzumab ozogamicin)||Pfizer|
|Gleevec® (imatinib mesylate)||Generic(s) Available||Novartis|
|Intron A® (interferon alpha-2b, recombinant)||Merck|
|Mylotarg™ (gemtuzumab ozogamicin)||Pfizer|
|Rituxan Hycela™ (rituximab; hyaluronidase||Genentech|
|Trisenox® (arsenic trioxide)||Teva|
Accredo also dispenses traditional chemotherapy medications as well as supportive care medications ordered by your prescriber that are not listed above.
Financing Your Care
Financial assistance coordination may be available to help with your medication costs, including manufacturer and community programs. Accredo representatives are available to help find a program that may work for you.
Life-saving specialty medication can be expensive. Learn how the Accredo teams help individuals find ways to afford the medication they need to survive in this video.
There are many organizations that support research and advocacy for leukemia. See below for a few of those organizations.
Cancer Support Organizations
There are many organizations that support research and advocacy for cancer. See below for a few of those organizations.
- American Cancer Society
- American Society of Clinical Oncology
- Association of Cancer Online Resources
- Cancer Support Community
- Livestrong Foundation
- National Foundation for Cancer Research
- Prevent Cancer Foundation
- Conquer Cancer Foundation
- Cancer GRACE
- National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship
- National Comprehensive Cancer Network
- Patient Advocate Foundation
Meet the Team
Accredo’s oncology care team is dedicated to serving you and we understand the complexity of your condition. Our specialty-trained clinicians are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to answer any questions.
Why We Do It
Accredo supports patients with chronic and complex conditions and helps them live their best life. Watch our video to learn why we do what we do for our patients.