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What Is Leukemia? (video)

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow


Marin Xavier, MD, a hematologist and oncologist at Scripps MD Anderson Cancer Center, discusses acute and chronic leukemia cancers and how they are treated.

Video transcript

What is leukemia?

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.

What are leukemia 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.

How is acute leukemia treated?

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.

How do you treat chronic leukemia in patients over the age of 65?

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.

Watch more Ask the Expert videos now for quick answers to common medical questions.