Our Approach to Leukemia

Principal investigator Daniel C. Link, MD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Medicine. Principal investigator Daniel C. Link, MD, the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Professor of Medicine.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. It develops when white blood cells do not grow normally. Over time, these cells multiply and accumulate in the blood and bone marrow, leading to illness.

The word “leukemia” means “white blood.” This is because the first documented leukemia patients were found to have an overwhelming number of white blood cells circulating in their blood vessels.

If you come to Siteman Cancer Center with a diagnosis of leukemia, you will be cared for by internationally-recognized leukemia experts. They see approximately 265 new leukemia patients a year, and their medical breakthroughs have led to improved outcomes for patients all over the world. It’s no wonder that the National Cancer Institute has described Siteman’s leukemia department as the pre-eminent leukemia program in the country.

The Siteman Difference

Siteman Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center in Missouri. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks us among the top cancer facilities in the nation.

A Top Leukemia Center

Since its founding in 1999, Siteman has been leading the charge against cancer from the middle of the Midwest. Our Washington University oncologists and scientists have an impressive track record of discoveries that have fundamentally changed how cancer is treated.

At Siteman, we unite compassionate patient care and ground-breaking cancer research.

Specialized oncologists

If you choose to have your leukemia treated at Siteman, you will be cared for by oncologists who specialize in the treatment of your disease. They only treat patients with leukemia and other blood cancers, and they study leukemia in their laboratories. They understand how the disease works at the molecular level and will apply that knowledge as they design your plan of care.

Meet our leukemia team.

Exceptional research

Leukemia researchers at Siteman Cancer Center have advanced cancer care with their discoveries.

In 2008, a team of Washington University physicians and scientists made history when they sequenced the first cancer genome from a patient with acute myeloid leukemia. Their achievement helped physicians and scientists understand how genetics could illuminate the biology of cancer, inform prognosis, and lead to novel treatments. At Siteman, your team will use the latest information and therapies to make sure you get the optimal treatment for your leukemia.

Our Washington University oncologists and scientists continue to strive for better leukemia therapies. Siteman holds a prestigious SPORE (or “specialized program of research excellence) grant for leukemia research from the National Cancer Institute, one of only three institutions to do so nationwide. This grant helps our researchers transform their laboratory breakthroughs into new treatments for patients more quickly and effectively.

Safer stem cell transplants

Sometimes, leukemia patients will require a blood or marrow transplant as part of their treatment plan. This procedure replaces the damaged blood-forming stem cells in the bone marrow with healthy stem cells from a donor.

Siteman has one of the largest blood and marrow transplant programs in the world. Our specialists perform over 400 transplants a year and are experts at bringing patients through the procedure successfully. If your team determines that a stem cell transplant would help you, you will be in excellent hands.

Learn more about stem cell transplants at Siteman.

CAR T-cell therapy

CAR T-cell therapy is a groundbreaking new treatment that genetically engineers immune cells from a patient’s own body so they can attack and destroy cancer cells. Patients have achieved extended remissions and even cures after undergoing CAR T-cell therapy.

CAR T-cell therapies are available for use in patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia who are under 25 years old. Patients of all ages with different types of leukemias can also receive CAR T-cell therapy at Siteman through a clinical trial. Your physicians will let you know if CAR T-cell therapy could be a good option for you.

Learn more about CAR T-cell therapy at Siteman.

Clinical trials

Clinical trials are designed to evaluate new medical treatments and improve on existing therapies. If you participate in a clinical trial, you may get early access to the latest, most advanced treatments for your cancer. Sometimes, clinical trials can offer hope to patients who have not found success with other forms of therapy.

Siteman Cancer Center houses more clinical trials than any other facility in the region. Your physicians may suggest enrolling you in a clinical trial if they believe you would benefit.

Review Siteman’s clinical trials for leukemia.