Thursday, February 22, 2007

Treatment of Blood Cancers

The mainstay of treating patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma is chemotherapy, usually using 2 or more anti-cancer drugs. There are approximately 50 drugs now in use for treating these cancers. Some patients with ALL, Hodgkin lymphoma, and some non-Hodgkin lymphomas can be treated with radiation therapy in addition to chemotherapy.

First introduced approximately 35 years ago, blood and bone marrowstem cell transplantation is now standard treatment for select patients with leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma. These stem cells may come from an identical twin ("syngeneic") or a donor with the same tissue type ("allogeneic"), such as a sibling. The National Marrow Donor Program keeps a registry of potential unrelated donors.

Other sources of stem cells include those harvested from the patient themselves while the patient is in remission. The harvested cells are treated with chemotherapy and can be frozen to be later infused back into the patient. Stem cells can also be harvested from blood, umbilical cord blood, and placental blood.

The basic concept is that the donor stem cells take hold, attack, and suppress the cancerous cells. The donor cells then take over and produce healthy, non-cancerous blood cells. In order to do this, the patient's bone marrow and immune system has to be wiped out by chemotherapy drugs, a difficult and often toxic process known as "ablative". Now, "non-ablative" techniques use lower doses of immunosuppressive drugs, preserving some of the patient's blood cell and immune system, and making the process much less toxic and more tolerable.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A three hour tour, a three hour tour

Saturday was tri friend R's 3hour spin class. It's not as bad as it sounds.
The first time I went, we had a 30 minute continual climb, increasing the tension every 30 seconds- unless someone told a joke. That day we all learned why the Easter bunny hides eggs, what a Marine calls a helicopter (told by a Marine), and what a pirate's favorite color is.

Sometimes these classes have themes like colors: We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine ...
This week's theme in homage to one of the spinners was the 5 W's and How: Baby, baby, where did our love goooooooo ...
Unfortunately, I missed the week they played "Screw your buddy".

Making things interesting, this week we all had pink, yellow, and purple post-it notes which we could use to make the class sprint, climb, or just work it like the rent is due. You were supposed to throw them down once you were done, but not everyone did that (P- I'm looking at you) which meant things stayed interesting until the bitter end.

And what better way to top off a three hour spin class, no not a salty oat cookie from Teaism, a run! Although fair warning: your tongue in cheek "I train to meet boys" t-shirt which was humorous in your gay spin instructor's class, will get you some odd looks in the rest of the gym.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Who gets Lymphoma and Myeloma?

Who gets Lymphoma?
Approximately 64,000 Americans will be diagnosed with lymphoma in 2005, the vast majority (about 90%) will have non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Of the cases of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, only 2% will be diagnosed in children. The incidence of non-Hodgkin lymphoma increases with age. Of cases of Hodgkin lymphoma, only 12 % will be diagnosed in children, and most of these are adolescents. In general, lymphomas are more common in males than in females and more common in Caucasians than African-Americans. Lymphomas are the third most common form of cancer in children (the most common is leukemia, followed by tumors of the central nervous system).

Who gets Myeloma?
Approximately 16,000 new cases of myeloma were diagnosed in the US in 2005. The median age at diagnosis is 70 yrs of age; cases are rare in adults less than age 45. The highest rates are found in African-American men over the age of 80 yrs. As with the other forms of blood cancers, myeloma is more common in men than women.

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Looking for a few good men!

and women for a charity bachelor/ bachelorette auction!
When: 10-ish, February 10th
Where: RnR (Formerly Coyote Ugly)
Why: A good time, and fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
Who: You babes and babe magnets!
Let me know if you would like to help out by being auctioned, or if you are going to come check out the action!