Leukemia is a name that includes two very separate entities. Acute leukemia is one that presents with people very ill, with infections or bleeding and other complications. Chronic leukemia sometimes has no symptoms.
Acute leukemia often presents with infections, bruising and bleeding. Chronic leukemias may present with no symptoms or may also present with infections or anemias.
Acute leukemia is treated differently based on the age of our patients. Young patients will be treated with intensive therapy with curative intent. Older patients will best benefit from less intensive therapies and clinical trials.
Chronic leukemia is now my favorite thing to treat because in the last year we’ve had several advances, both in targeted therapies and immunotherapies.
Oftentimes it’s just a pill. Or best yet, oftentimes active observation is the the best way to treat it by not treating it.
We usually recommend that patients over the age of 65 with acute leukemia strongly consider our clinical trials for which we have several here at Scripps.