Update on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Posted on: September 2, 2014

By Kasra Karamlou, MDDr. Karamlou Diablo Valley Oncologist Blood cancers affect the production and function of your blood cells. There are three types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. In most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal or cancerous blood cell. There are three common types of blood cancers: leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. Leukemia is found in the blood and bone marrow. It is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. High numbers of abnormal white blood cells are not able to fight infection and they impair the ability of bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets. Lymphoma affects the lymphatic system.The lymphatic system removes excess fluids from the body and produces immune cells called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Abnormal lymphocytes turn into lymphoma cells, which multiply, collect in person’s lymph nodes, and over time can impair your immune system. Myeloma is a blood cancer that specifically targets plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce disease and infection fighting antibodies. Myeloma cells prevent the normal production of antibodies, leaving the body’s immune system weakened and susceptible to infection. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common leukemia seen in the western hemisphere.  Majority of patients with the disease do not require therapy.  However, for most patients who required therapy the standard chemotherapy and antibody based therapies can have substantial toxicities and options for patients with recurrent disease has been limited in the past. There has been tremendous progress in understanding the biology of CLL, which has led to the introduction of novel therapies in the management of the disease. The role of B cell receptor in survival of CLL cells has led to the introduction and approval of two novel therapies, Ibritunib and Idelalisib. Both drugs inhibit the B cell receptor survival and migration signaling in CLL cells and have shown to produce durable responses in relapsed CLL with manageable side effects. These novel therapies are being studied in the upfront management of the disease as well and the results of these studies are eagerly awaited. Dr. Karamlou is a medical oncologist and hematologist with Diablo Valley Oncology and Hematology Medical Group. He treats all tumor types with a special interest in hematological malignancies(Lymphoma, Leukemia, MDS and myeloma) Dr. Karamlou sees patients in Pleasant Hill and Brentwood and can be reached at 925-677-5041 or at dvohmg.com Tags: , , , ,