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Leukemia Diagnosis and Treatment

Screening and Diagnosis | Personalized Treatment | Additional Patient Support

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Approximately 60,000 cases of the various types of leukemia are estimated to be diagnosed yearly in the United States.

The experienced specialists at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center combine the most advanced scientific knowledge and technology with a comprehensive approach to care. They create a program of personalized medicine for each individual diagnosed with leukemia. Drawing from the diverse experience of physicians, surgeons, nurses, researchers and a host of other highly trained healthcare professionals, the Kellogg Cancer Center team is dedicated to putting patients—and families—at the center of a healthcare experience that delivers compassionate, quality care.


Leukemia Screening and Diagnosis

In leukemia, or hematologic malignancy, the marrow often can no longer produce enough normal red and white blood cells and platelets (the blood cells that prevent bleeding).

Leukemia is divided into four major categories:

The signs and symptoms for leukemia are often vague. They may include fatigue, repeated infections, lasting low-grade fever, bruising easily, and nosebleeds or other hemorrhages.

No established screening exists for any type of leukemia. Because symptoms often resemble those of other less serious conditions, leukemia can be difficult to diagnose early. Symptomatic patients may undergo a variety of pathology tests, which may include blood tests, and a bone marrow biopsy and aspirate. It is important to note that many forms of leukemia do not require a bone marrow biopsy, and can be identified through a peripheral blood smear.

There is no standard staging system for leukemia. Untreated, in remission or recurrent are terms used to describe the status of the disease.

Personalized Leukemia Treatment

Chemotherapy is the most effective method of leukemia treatment. Various anticancer drugs are used either in combination or as single agents. Under appropriate conditions, bone marrow transplantation may be useful in treating certain forms of leukemia. Antibiotics and transfusions of blood components are used as supportive treatments.

Our team develops personalized leukemia care plans to address each patient's acute or chronic leukemia. We use next-generation sequencing to identify key biomarkers to help guide treatment decisions and target therapies to specific mutations. This advanced molecular testing allows us to risk stratify for other adverse risk factors such as 17p deletion (leukemia caused by a mutated 17th chromosome), the source of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a common form of leukemia.

Our multidisciplinary team meets regularly in a multidisciplinary conference tto discuss your case in detail. Your team may include your hematologistsurgeon, radiation oncologistgeneticist, pathologist, nutritionist, pharmacist, interventional radiologist, social worker and researchers. This "meeting of the minds" provides critical input from all angles, resulting in the development of the optimal therapeutic course of action for your care.

At NorthShore, we treat many patients with leukemia using an outpatient management regimen. This approach allows you to safely avoid lengthy hospital stays and return to the comfort of your own home after each treatment session. Our specialists see patients with more acute cases of leukemia in our inpatient clinical service at Evanston Hospital.

Additional Patient Support

Kellogg Cancer Center’s unique services and resources assist patients and family members with a variety of challenges they may face from diagnosis, treatment and beyond. A wide array of support services are available to patients that include our integrative medicine services, financial advocacy and survivorship, to name a few.

For More Information

For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, please call 847.570.2112.