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Why Choose Us for Leukemia Care?

Dr. Lucy Godley and patient

Patients who come to the University of Chicago Medicine Comprehensive Cancer Center have access to the most advanced treatments, including:

  • Revolutionary targeted therapies for some leukemias, that specifically attack the molecular abnormalities that cause cancers of the blood
  • The most recent approaches in chemotherapy and immunotherapy--including the first vaccine trial in acute myeloid leukemia and the use of novel targeted monoclonal antibodies and new techniques to stimulate the immune system to attack and eradicate leukemia cells
  • Comprehensive stem cell transplantation, including unrelated donor and cord blood transplants, which make these life-saving procedures a possibility for more patients
  • Supportive therapies to help reduce fatigue, infections, and other problems that may develop due to leukemia or leukemia treatments
  • A specialized clinic for young adults (ages 15-30 years) with blood malignancies to focus on the specific issues that face this population during and following treatment

Treatment and survival for leukemias has improved remarkably, and University of Chicago leukemia specialists are actively researching several methods to tailor the most effective treatment plan for each patient.

Access to the Newest Cancer Drugs

Many of our physicians are nationally renowned for their research and clinical expertise. As a result, our leukemia program is commonly among the first in the country to test new experimental leukemia drugs via clinical trials sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.

Participate in a leukemia clinical trial

We were one of the first medical centers in the country to test imatinib mesylate (Gleevec™), the targeted gene therapy that has revolutionized the treatment of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and more recently, have had access to clinical trials with exciting new agents that are beginning to change the treatment paradigm for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and all of the myeloid disorders, including acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), and myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs).

Leaders in Cytogenetic Research

Shannon Wilson and Mica Witt Mica Witt’s family is among 32 families in the world documented with the RUNX1 genetic mutation that leads to leukemia. Both mother and daughter chose the medical center for their care. »Read their story

Behind the scenes, our physicians and researchers are busy unlocking the genetic deviations that cause various types of leukemia--which will hopefully lead to more revolutionary drugs like Gleevec. By identifying the chromosomal abnormalities that lead to specific types of leukemia, scientists can begin developing drugs that specifically target those abnormalities, disabling the cancer cells' ability to grow and survive.

An added benefit: Because molecularly targeted therapies only attack defective cells, they produce fewer side effects than traditional therapies, such as chemotherapy.

Our scientists have been pioneers in genetic cancer research since the 1970s when University of Chicago physician Janet Rowley, MD, and her colleagues identified the chromosomal abnormalities that cause several leukemias--including CML and acute promyelocytic leukemia. Our scientists also discovered a gene that is involved in more than 50 chromosomal translocations that contribute to the development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

One of the Top Diagnostic Teams in the Country

The molecular genetic research at the University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center has led to more precise diagnostic approaches, as well as new and effective treatments. Our world-renowned hematopathologists and cytogeneticists literally wrote "the book" on classifying these diseases--the World Health Organization's textbook. Physicians from around the world consult with our hematopathologists on complicated leukemia cases and other blood disorders to ensure that the proper diagnosis is made.

Because of their extensive knowledge and experience, our hematopathologists can accurately identify even the rarest and most complex cases, which allows our clinicians to recommend the most effective treatments.

Individualized Care from a Team of Experts

There are many advantages to coming to a top cancer program like the one at the University of Chicago Medicine campus. Here, your care will be directed by physicians and nurses who specialize in the treatment of acute and chronic leukemias, MDS and MPDs. They have devoted their entire careers to helping patients with these diseases.

Our leukemia experts meet regularly as a team to discuss each case and to design individualized treatment plans that take your goals and desires into account.