Are you having back pain with any of the following?

  • Severe pain, weakness or tingling in your leg(s).
  • Difficulty stopping urination or loss of control of bladder or bowels.
  • Unexplained fever, nausea or vomiting.
  • A history of cancer or unexplained weight loss.

We understand that you are experiencing one or more of the health issues that might be impacting your back pain.

We recommend that you discuss these health issues with your doctor before proceeding with this program.

Once you are cleared by your doctor to do this program, we hope it helps you find relief from your back pain.

Cancer Care

Fremont and San Leandro Medical Centers

Overview

Leukemia develops when immature blood cells growing in the bone marrow change and begin to multiply out of control. If they are present in large numbers, the abnormal blood cells can overwhelm the bone marrow, preventing the production of the healthy blood cells the body needs.

After we determine the type of leukemia and other important features of your cancer, we will discuss the treatment options and develop a plan that is right for you. Treatment options for leukemia include watchful waiting (monitoring), chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and stem cell transplantation.

If you have an acute type of leukemia, treatment will begin immediately to stop the fast-growing cancer cells. If started quickly, treatment can have a higher success rate.

Additional References:

Watchful Waiting

Because chronic forms of leukemia can grow slowly, some patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia may not require treatment right away. This approach, known as watchful waiting, involves regular checkups so we can closely monitor your cancer. If you develop symptoms, treatment can help control the leukemia.

Chemotherapy

You will likely receive 1 or more chemotherapy drugs to kill the leukemia cells. Chemotherapy can be delivered through a vein, into a muscle, or in pill form. Known as systemic chemotherapy, these drugs enter the bloodstream and attack leukemia cells throughout the body.

To destroy leukemia cells that have spread to the difficult-to-reach brain and spinal cord, chemotherapy drugs are injected into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. This method is known as intrathecal chemotherapy.

Side effects

Chemotherapy can cause a variety of side effects. The severity of the side effects depends upon the type and dose of the drug as well as the length of time it is given. You may experience 1 or more of the following common side effects of chemotherapy:

  • Hair loss.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Mouth sores.
  • Fatigue.
  • Low blood cells counts, which can increase the risk of infections and other problems.

Although side effects typically go away after treatment ends, there are effective ways to manage them during treatment.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy is a relatively new approach to treating cancer. It involves the use of drugs that target specific parts of the cancer cell that help it survive and grow. Depending on the type of leukemia you have, one of the following types of targeted therapy may be used:

  • Tyrosine kinase inhibitors block the signals that tell the cancer to grow. You may have to be on these drugs indefinitely because the cancer may recur without continuous treatment.
  • Biological drugs, such as monoclonal antibodies, use the body’s own immune system to fight the cancer.
Side effects

Because targeted drugs take aim specifically at cancer cells, there is less collateral damage to healthy cells. But targeted drugs are not without side effects, which may include:

  • Swelling or bloating
  • Sudden weight gain
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

We will work with you closely to help manage these and other side effects.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation, such as X-rays, to kill cancer cells. The most common type is external beam radiation therapy, which delivers radiation from a machine outside the body. Radiation therapy may be used to relieve symptoms caused by swollen lymph nodes or an enlarged spleen. It is also sometimes used to treat leukemia that has spread to the brain and spinal cord or to the testicles.

Side effects

Because the radiation beam is often aimed at a specific part of the body, the side effects will depend on what area is treated. Possible short-term side effects of radiation therapy include:

  • Hair loss
  • Skin changes, such as redness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

Stem Cell Transplantation

In leukemia, the bone marrow (the place where blood cells are made) is filled with cancer cells. An additional treatment may be stem cell transplantation. In this treatment, first you will receive high doses of chemotherapy or, sometimes, whole-body radiation therapy to wipe out the bone marrow. Then, you will receive a stem cell transplant that replaces blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow, creating a healthy environment for blood cell production.

Stem cells are usually obtained from the circulating blood but may also come from a newborn’s umbilical cord and placenta, which are rich in blood stem cells. Depending on the source of the stem cells, there are two main types of transplant:

  • Allogeneic transplant: Blood stem cells come from a related or unrelated donor whose tissue type matches your tissue type. The closer the match, the better the chance your body will accept the donor stem cells and start producing normal blood cells.
  • Autologous transplant: When the cancer is in remission from previous treatment, your own stem cells are removed and frozen for storage. We then reinfuse the stem cells into your blood after you have finished high-dose treatment. This type of transplant is not often used because there is a greater risk that the cancer will come back.
Side effects

Treating the bone marrow with high-dose chemotherapy and/or radiation to prepare you for a stem cell transplant can temporarily leave your body without its natural defenses. It can take several weeks, possibly months, for the bone marrow to recover. During that time, you are at an increased risk of infection and bleeding.

A complication of allogeneic (donor) stem cell transplantation is graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). This happens when the donor stem cells recognize your body as foreign and start attacking tissues of the skin, digestive tract, and liver. Symptoms of GVHD include:

  • Skin rash
  • Yellowing of the skin and eyes
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue and weakness

We will talk with you about what side effects to expect, and how we plan to prevent or manage them.

Additional References:

Clinical Trials

We are always looking for new and better ways to treat leukemia. Clinical trials are research studies that test new treatments or procedures that may prove better than standard treatments. We will talk with you about whether a clinical trial may be right for you.

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