Patient Comments: Leukemia - Treatments

What was the treatment for your leukemia?

Comment from: Teresa, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: March 19

I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) on December 29, 2009. The first treatment I had is a process known as leukapheresis to remove excess white blood cells (WBCs) before my chemotherapy started. High dose chemotherapy will kill the cancerous cells, but when there are so many extra WBCs, the body cannot get rid of them and sepsis can set in. Therefore, as many cells as possible must be removed first. Leukapheresis is like kind of like dialysis. The blood is taken out, WBCs removed, and then the blood is returned. The process takes about 4 hours. This got my count down to a more normal level. Next was high dose chemotherapy. This is an in-patient hospital procedure that takes around a month from start to finish. The chemical I got was Ara-C and it is given as 2 doses per day for 6 days. Then the bone marrow is wiped out and the body has no immunity, so the hospital stay is as long as it takes to get enough healthy WBCs to fight infection, usually 3 more weeks. This process put me in remission. None of my siblings matched for a transplant and the least risky procedure was to try several more rounds of chemotherapy. The theory is that each time the bone marrow is wiped out, the first stem cells to replenish are healthy non- cancerous cells and the will kill off any cancer cells. I had 2 more rounds of chemotherapy, a month in hospital each time with about 3 weeks at home in-between. I was in remission for about a year before I relapsed. By this time, a donor was found from the National Bone Marrow Registry (Be the Match). I had a stem cell transplant from a non-related donor in June 2011.

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Comment from: Patti, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 17

To the young lady writing about her doctors not doing anything about her lack of immunity in her body. Go to a cancer center and have them run tests. Any Doctor worth his weight in gold would already have sent you there. Do not wait to have cancer jump on you, get a head start and verify if you do or do not have a cancer of some type. I am a cancer survivor, (lymph node cancer). Yes, I went through chemo and I was fortunate I did not get sick during that time period. Weak, I had diarrhea and my immune system was way down, but otherwise I remained okay. Able to do my own housework too. All this at age 65 then. I praise the Lord every day for bringing me through this. I have been cancer free since my last chemo in Nov. of 2010. Good luck.

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Comment from: 75 or over Female (Patient) Published: February 18

I have been on several therapies for CML. My first treatment involved all trans Retinoic Acid in tandem with Hydrea. Secondly, I was treated with homoherringtonine and inteferon alpha (one by infustion and the other by subcutaneous injection. Thirdly, I was treated with Gleevec (alone). My fourth treatment was with another trial drug, now approved as Sprycel. My fifth treatment consisted of SKI 606 now called Bosutinib (still in trial) and finally I have entered yet another trial in Phase 2 of the Ariad trial, now called Ponatinib. These are second and third generation TKI's and end with "nib".

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Comment from: 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: December 27

I'm in my late 40s I was diagnosed with CML 2 years ago. My doctor was treating my symptoms individually so it took longer to put 2 and 2 together. My symptoms were, burning tongue syndrome, blood in urine/stool, abdominal pain, very fatigued, anemia, shortness of breath, pain in my chest, and became very ill with pneumonia 3 years in a row during the winter months. When my doctor refused to make the time to see me on three different occasions, I went to the ER with abdominal pain. That's when the blood work came back with high white count of 23000 and going up by the 9th day in the hospital and lots and lots of tests that finally revealed CML. My advise to you, don't let your doctor turn you away if you feel you need to be seen, be persistent! I'm doing better, and still fighting.

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Comment from: BoB, 55-64 Male (Caregiver) Published: November 02

My 21 year old son was diagnosed with CML. He went on medications and for three months. Thereafter we managed to get him onto Gleevec whilst we sought a stem cell donor. After seven months a donor was found and the transplant was infused. After many 'related' illnesses he was finally in remission and has been totally free of cancer until his untimely and unrelated death in September. Prior to his transplant and whilst he had been on Hydrea for the full three months he donated sperm to enable him to have a family later - due to chemo, radiation etc. etc. Shortly after his transplant he got married. We had been advised recently that there could be a problem with the sperm due to the Hydrea. I have researched and cannot find conclusive if this is true or not. His distraught wife (our daughter in law) wants to go ahead with IVF. My wife and I disagree with her.

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