The Evolution of Leukemia Treatment
More than 250,000 people are living with, or in remission from, leukemia in the United States today. That means that approximately every four minutes, someone else is diagnosed with the disease. Those struggling to overcome leukemia come from all walks of life—in fact, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the fifth most common cancer in the United States, affecting people of both genders and of all ages. Despite this fact, adults are diagnosed with leukemia 10 times more often than children, and the median age at diagnosis is 66 years old.
Treatments for leukemia have come a long way since the early 1900s when the primary therapy for the disease was arsenic. This evolution can be seen as a function of the way physicians and researchers have come to understand the disease, and early in the 20th century, four types of leukemia were classified: chronic lymphocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and erythroleukemia. It was in the 1920s that doctors understood that radiation, which was then used as a standard treatment for leukemia, could be a cause of the disease as well as a cure.
Today many people both young and old are able to successfully fight the disease with modern treatments like chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants, and research is being done all the time for effective and safe new ways of helping people win the battle with leukemia.
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