Leukemia and Lymphoma

Interdisciplinary Approach to Treating Leukemia and Lymphoma

Doctors at Loyola Medicine are nationally recognized for their dedication to research, diagnosis and treatment of lymphatic and blood cancers, including leukemia and lymphoma

Leukemia and lymphoma, or blood and lymphatic cancers, are cancer types that develop in your blood or lymphatic system. Both result from problems with white blood cells, but are classified according to the origin of the cancer cells. If the disease affects circulating cells, it is considered leukemia. If the disease tends to produce a tumor, it is considered lymphoma. 
 
Our interdisciplinary team of doctors provides an integrated approach to your diagnosis, and you receive a comprehensive cancer treatment plan specific to your needs.

At Loyola, we aim to go beyond the treatment of disease and care for the issues that affect your life, your work and your family. That’s why our complementary and supportive care services include psychotherapy services, nutritional counseling, massage therapy, spa services and pain management. 

What are Leukemia and Lymphoma?

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood-forming cells. It begins when bone marrow produces abnormal blood cells, which spread to the blood stream and often to other parts of the body.  The type of cell in which the leukemia originates determines whether it is classified as lymphoid or myeloid. The four most common types of leukemia are:

  • Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which affects lymphoid cells and grows quickly
  • Acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which affects myeloid cells and grows quickly
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which affects lymphoid cells and grows slowly
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which affects myeloid cells and grows slowly

Additional leukemia types may include:

  • Castleman disease
  • Kaposi sarcoma
  • Leukemia in children
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome

Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, and arises when cells divide faster than normal or live longer than they are supposed to live. The abnormal cells can build up in the lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen or blood. There are two main types of lymphoma:

Hodgkin lymphoma (formerly referred to as Hodgkin's lymphoma)
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (formerly referred to as non-Hodgkin's lymphoma)
 
Additional lymphoma types may include:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in children
  • Skin lymphoma
  • Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, also known as lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma 

To learn more about leukemia and lymphoma, please visit the following websites:

How are Leukemia and Lymphoma Diagnosed?

Doctors at Loyola approach the diagnosis of blood cancers with great attention to detail. Our vast knowledge of symptoms, classifications and treatment options enable our highly skilled doctors to accurately diagnose your particular blood cancer type. 
 
In many instances, patients seek medical attention if they experience swelling in lymph nodes, fever, night sweats, chronic fatigue, appetite loss, weight loss, persistent infections or bone pain. These symptoms, combined with your personal and family medical history, physical exam and blood tests could indicate the presence of leukemia or lymphoma. 
 
If a blood cancer is suspected, your doctor may request additional tests. Most patients with suspected leukemia will require a bone marrow biopsy for definitive diagnosis. In the case of lymphoma, your doctor will likely order a biopsy of the affected tissue.

 

How are Leukemia and Lymphoma Treated?

If you have been diagnosed with leukemia or lymphoma, your cancer team at Loyola will work together to develop a treatment plan designed specifically for you.  In most instances, your blood cancer will be treated with one or more of the following:

Regardless of your specific treatment plan, our interdisciplinary team includes physicians, nurses, transplant coordinators, case managers, dietitians, social workers, chaplains and a clinical psychologist.

If a bone marrow transplant is needed, Loyola's bone marrow transplantation program is the largest in Illinois, having performed more than 1,900 transplants to date. It is well documented by the American Society of Clinical Oncologists that centers that perform the greatest number of transplants have the best patient outcomes, and Loyola is recognized as a premier transplant center. Learn more about bone marrow and stem cell transplants.

Clinical Trials for Leukemia and Lymphoma at Loyola

Loyola’s team is actively involved in research, providing you the opportunity to participate in promising clinical trials that are not available at many other hospitals. We encourage patients and families to see us as soon as possible after a cancer diagnosis, because we know that the earlier a patient receives treatment, the better the chances for good outcomes.