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NYP Makes Treatment Strides Against Leukemia

For those suffering from leukemia, more treatment options are available today than ever before.
For those suffering from leukemia, more treatment options are available today than ever before. Photo Credit: iStock.com_chrupka

Recent treatment strides show promise for improving the life expectancy and quality of life for those affected by leukemia.

Leukemias, which are cancers of the blood and bone marrow cells, result from the rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells that eventually overtake normal blood cells and cause problems such as anemia, bleeding and infections. In acute leukemia, immature white blood cells grow rapidly, causing severe symptoms in a short time. In chronic leukemia, the abnormal cells grow more slowly, often over a period of years, making people more susceptible to infection or bleeding.

Treatment for leukemia is tailored to the type of leukemia and the patient’s age, overall health and the extent of disease. Until recently, treatment relied on traditional chemotherapy drugs and stem cell therapies for patients who could no longer be treated successfully with existing therapies. Now, scientists are at the cusp of translating research advances into leukemia treatments that block cancer signals or reactivate the immune system to attack cancer cells. These innovative therapies are much more targeted, with fewer side effects and better efficacy.

This year alone, the FDA approved gene therapy tisagenlecleucel for children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common childhood cancer in America. Tisagenlecleucel is a T-cell immunotherapy that enables a patient’s own cells to recognize, attack and destroy cancers cells.

The FDA also approved a combination chemotherapy called CPX-351 for treatment of two types of high-risk acute myeloid leukemia. The regimen combines two commonly used chemotherapies into a single formulation that may help some patients live longer than if they were to receive the two therapies separately. The FDA also recently approved enasidenib, a targeted therapy for relapsed AML patients who have a specific genetic mutation.

As breakthroughs in treatment approaches for leukemia and other hematologic cancers continually evolve, it's important to be diagnosed and treated at a comprehensive cancer center. At NewYork-Presbyterian, specialists collaborate to develop personalized treatment plans for each patient using the latest treatment approaches. NYP actively participates in clinical trials that provide patients with access to investigational therapies that show promise for fighting leukemia. In addition, NYP doctors perform more than 200 stem cell transplants a year at advanced transplant units offering individual monitoring and special airflow systems for patients with weakened immune systems.

NewYork-Presbyterian Cancer Centers provide high-quality, comprehensive cancer care at convenient locations throughout the New York metropolitan area, Westchester and the Lower Hudson Valley and provide a comprehensive program of cancer services in state-of-the-art, comfortable environments. Board certified, disease-focused hematologic and medical oncologists collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of cancer specialists to provide each patient with an individualized plan of care. To find a location, visit

NewYork-Presbyterian is one of the largest and most comprehensive hospitals in the nation, ranked New York’s No. 1 hospital for the 16th consecutive year, and No. 6 in the United States, according to U.S. News & World Report. Affiliated with two academic medical colleges – Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Weill Cornell Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian brings together internationally recognized researchers and clinicians to develop and implement the latest approaches for prevention, diagnosis and treatment. The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center is one of only three NCI-designated comprehensive cancer centers in New York State. NewYork-Presbyterian provides comprehensive cancer care at all of our locations across the New York Metro area, including Westchester County and the Hudson Valley. Learn more at