Experts estimate that in Spain, between three and five new cases of each of the types of leukemia per 100,000 inhabitants are detected every year. Leukemia is a rare cancer that attacks the cells of the bone marrow, turning them cancerous, and these abnormal cells spread through the blood and can invade other organs.
In our country we still do not have a national registry where the data of all the patients affected by this pathology are consigned, and each hospital has its own. That is why hematologists demand the creation of a single registry, as well as those that work in countries such as Canada or Sweden, and that research is encouraged on this disease, facilitating patients access to new treatments, without establishing restrictions for economic reasons.
There have been great advances in the treatment of leukemia, such as new targeted therapies, which fight cancer cells without causing damage to healthy tissues
The causes that cause the appearance of leukemia are unknown, although there are factors that increase the risk of developing the disease, such as exposure to radiation and certain toxins and drugs, depression of the immune system or certain genetic disorders. In the case of acute leukemias, the disease progresses rapidly and treatment must be instituted as soon as possible; In fact, the acute myeloblastic leukemia it has a very bad prognosis, especially in older patients, although when it comes to young adults, healing is achieved in approximately half of the cases. At the other extreme, the acute lymphoblastic leukemia -The most common in children-, can be cured with adequate treatment in more than 80 percent of patients.
When the disease reappears after being treated with medications, or the chances of curing it using only chemotherapy are less than 40 percent, it is indicated transplant of bone marrow, explains Dr. Jordi Sierra, of the Spanish Society of Hematology and Hemotherapy (SEHH) and head of the Hematology Service of the Hospital de la Santa Creu and Sant Pau in Barcelona. In order to carry out this intervention, a compatible donor is used - one that is searched among relatives or in donor databases, if no family member is compatible - or the patient's own stem cells are used.
Dr. Serra notes that there have been great advances in the treatment of leukemia, especially new targeted therapies that fight cancer cells without causing injury to healthy tissues, and stresses that in the case of people affected by chronic myeloid leukemia, it is possible to control the disease in the long term in more than 85 percent of the cases, and that they have also significantly improved the techniques of transplantation.
Source: Spanish Society of Hematology and Hemotherapy (SEHH)