Leukemia

Leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, is the most common type of hematologic malignancy. It occurs most often in adults older than 55, but it is also the most common cancer in children younger than 15.

With the right care, many cases of leukemia can be successfully managed and even cured. Some patients don’t require immediate treatment, only regular monitoring.

Access to Latest Therapies

UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center offers leukemia patients treatments and expertise they can’t get anywhere else in the region. Robert Collins, M.D., who leads the program, has more than 25 years of experience treating leukemia and is a sought-after expert in adoptive immunotherapy, which involves manipulating a patient’s immune system so that it attacks cancer cells.

In addition, UT Southwestern is at the forefront of molecular targeted therapies for leukemia patients. This involves identifying the cell mutations causing the disease and administering a drug to attack those cells or their pathways.

When a bone marrow transplant is needed, proven success is important. UT Southwestern has the top survival rate for allogeneic stem cell transplants in Texas among adult programs. We also offer leukemia patients a more sophisticated transplant process that removes harmful cells and returns immune cells specifically engineered to attack the cancer cells. This program is led by transplant specialist Madhuri Vusirikala, M.D.

Meet Our Experts

Diagnosis

At UT Southwestern, we diagnose and treat all types of leukemia – acute myeloid leukemia (AML), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and myelodysplasia (pre-leukemia).

Leukemia may be suspected when blood work indicates an abnormally high white blood cell count.

People with chronic leukemia often experience no symptoms, and many are diagnosed after having blood work done for some other reason. Acute leukemia, on the other hand, frequently causes symptoms that quickly arise and get worse, leading people to see their doctors.

Leukemia is diagnosed with a combination of a physical examination, the patient’s symptoms and health status, and tests that include: 

Blood analysis
To assess the numbers, types, and shapes of blood cells, as well as other characteristics that indicate the presence of leukemia in the body
Bone marrow biopsy
To detect leukemia cells in the bone marrow

An accurate diagnosis is critical to forming an effective treatment plan. UT Southwestern takes accurate diagnosis to the highest level with specialized pathologists called hematopathologists who are uniquely trained to identify and classify blood cancers such as leukemia.

Treatment

Because some leukemias can progress quickly due to specific genetic defects in the cancer cells, the UT Southwestern team tests for these defects in every patient before deciding on a course of treatment.

Depending on the type, leukemia can be treated with:

Chemotherapy
Anticancer drugs that travel through the bloodstream to reach cancer cells all over the body
Biological or molecular targeted therapy
New drugs that attack specific cancer cells or parts of those cells
Bone-marrow transplantation
Destroying the cancerous cells in the bone marrow and replacing them with healthy stem cells

Life Beyond Leukemia

Living with leukemia or getting back to your life after treatment can be challenging. As cancer specialists, we want to make sure we address your unique needs at every point in your cancer journey.

To do this, we have a specially trained support services staff available to meet with you and your family during and after care, as well as a range of therapies and activities to help you through treatment for leukemia and beyond.

Clinical Trials

As one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers, Simmons Cancer Center offers a broad spectrum of clinical trials aimed at improving the outcomes of patients with leukemia. Talk to your doctor if you are interested in joining a clinical trial.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a leukemia specialist at UT Southwestern’s facilities in Dallas or to learn more about our services, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.