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Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment



  • Frequent infections
  • Fever and chills
  • Anemia
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Weight loss
  • Swollen or tender lymph nodes
  • Petechiae, tiny red spots under the skin caused by abnormal bleeding
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Sweating, especially at night
  • Bone or joint pain

Your doctor will perform blood tests to see if you have leukemia. Examining the bone marrow under a microscope will tell what type of leukemia a patient has. Bone marrow is collected with a needle.

There are three types of standard treatment for leukemia: chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplant.

  • Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing.
  • Stem cell transplant replaces blood-forming cells destroyed by cancer treatment. Before treatment, stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient. The stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.

Hodgkin's Lymphoma


  • Painless, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, or groin
  • Fever for no known reason
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Itchy skin
  • Feeling very tired

Your doctor will perform blood tests to determine if you have Hodgkin's lymphoma. You may also need a lymph node biopsy. This is the removal of all or part of a lymph node.

There are three types of standard treatment for leukemia: chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell transplant.

Latest Treatment

Over the past 10 years, scientists have made major progress in treating leukemia and lymphoma. These advances include:

  • Use of a single drug, Gleevec (imatinib mesylate), for treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). This drug is now the first choice for patients with newly diagnosed CML. It works by blocking an enzyme that causes development of more white blood cells than the body needs.
  • Autologous stem cell infusion. This therapy uses cells from the patient's own bone marrow instead of from a related donor, such as a brother or sister, or a matched unrelated donor. This helps reduce adverse reactions.

To Find Out More

For more information on leukemia and lymphoma, visit

Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma


  • Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Coughing, trouble breathing or chest pain
  • Weakness and tiredness that don't go away
  • Pain, swelling, or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen

A lymph node biopsy is used to diagnose non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Sometimes the diagnosis may be delayed because enlarged lymph nodes are more often caused by infections. Your doctor may wait a few weeks to see if the lymph nodes stay large. You may also get antibiotics to see if they cause the nodes to shrink.

Four types of treatment are standard for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: radiation therapy, chemotherapy, biologic therapy, and watchful waiting. Biologic therapy uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.

  • Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient's condition without giving any treatment until symptoms appear or change.

Summer 2008 Issue: Volume 3 Number 3 Page 11