Following are some of the questions most frequently asked by patients and their family members.
1) What type of doctor specializes in Leukemia and Lymphoma?
Physicians who specialize in the treatment of leukemia and lymphoma are called hematologists. They are trained in the management of blood-related disorders and specialize in oncology or cancer treatment. They will coordinate all of the care for a patient with leukemia and lymphoma including ordering the treatments such as chemotherapy. If a stem cell transplant becomes necessary in treating the disease then the hematologist usually works directly with the transplant team.
2) Is Leukemia (or Lymphoma, Myeloma) inherited?
No. There is little to no evidence that these diseases are inherited. There are genetic components to the diseases and often there are alterations in the DNA but the cause of these changes is unknown and occurs later in life.
3) What are the statistics for the survival of Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma?
Survival is measured in several ways so it is important to differentiate the meaning of each measure. Often the survival statistics are presented as five-year survival that is the percentage of people who survive five years from the date of diagnosis.
The five-year survival rates for the blood-related cancers are leukemia 44%, lymphoma 52% and myeloma 28%. Disease specific rates differ within the leukemia category: ALL is 58%, CLL is 71%, AML is 14% and CML is 32%. These figures alter for children and people over 75.
Within the lymphomas there are also differences in the five-year survival rates: Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is 52% whereas Hodgkin’s is 83%.
4) Does the Leukemia and Lymphoma Foundation offer any financial assistance?
The Foundation provides financial assistance to patients in need. The program is supported entirely by public contributions.
5) I’m on chemotherapy and do not know which side effects I need to call my physician about.
Side effects of treatment with chemotherapy agents are usually discussed with patients before the treatment is started. From the perspective of the physician the side effects of greatest concern may be fever, breathing difficulties, hives or rashes, rapid heartbeat, confusion, and redness or pain at the IV site.
From the patient’s perspective, any side effect causing discomfort or limiting usual activity such as diarrhoea or nausea is a concern. Report any of these side effects when they first appear. Sometimes the more common side effects can be managed with medications to reduce discomfort.