Treatment Programs

Leukemia

The Center for Leukemia at the Mass General Cancer Center provides treatment for all types and stages of leukemia and related disorders, including: acute lymphoblastic leukemia; acute myelogeneous leukemia; chronic myelogenous leukemia; lymphoblastic lymphoma; myelodysplasia; myelofibrosis and other myeloproliferative neoplasms.

 

On this page you will find information to help you:

Information about Leukemia

What is Leukemia?Learn More about this Condition

Leukemia is a type of cancer in which certain white blood cells grow out of control and spread through the blood stream.  These white blood cells are made in the bone marrow.  Bone marrow is the spongy material in the center of bones where our blood cells are formed.  The leukemia blood cells are not normal and cannot do their usual work.  They also interfere with other blood cells working properly.  There are four main types of Leukemia that are grouped and named by:

  • Whether it is Acute (fast growing) or Chronic (slow growing). 
    o Acute leukemia grows rapidly
    o Chronic leukemia grows slowly
  • The type of white blood cell that is affected (called a myeloid cell or a lymphoid cell)

The four most common types of Leukemia are called:

  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) (also a type of Myeloproliferative neoplasm)

Learn more about leukemia.

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Our Leukemia Team

 

Our Leukemia Team

See the Complete Team List

Karen Ballen, MD

Every patient treated at the Center for Leukemia has a multidisciplinary team of specialists that coordinates every aspect of his or her care. The leukemia team is headed by Karen Ballen, MD, in includes both Medical Oncologists and Pathologists.


See the complete team list treating Leukemia

Karen Ballen, MD
Clinical Director, Leukemia Program

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Our Approach 

Innovative Approaches
Our program is internationally known for its level of expertise in all areas of diagnosis and care, access to clinical trials, and state-of-the-art transfusion and blood product support.

Among our key distinguishing factors are:

  • Consultations with leading hematopathologists (doctors who examine tissue samples) 
  • Access to the Mass General Bone Marrow Transplant Program and to innovative therapies such as: 
  • umbilical cord blood transplantation and
  • mismatched family member transplants
  • Affiliation with the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Technology to increase understanding of different types of leukemia at the stem cell level
  • Innovative care for newly diagnosed and relapsed patients
  • Compassionate and personalized care for all patients

Multidisciplinary Patient Care
Every patient treated at the Center for Leukemia has a team of specialists that coordinates every aspect of his or her care. Leukemia is treated, in most cases, with chemotherapy alone, managed by medical oncologists.  The medical hematologists/oncologists at the Center for Leukemia each have a high level of sub-specialization. Patients are matched with hematologists/oncologists who have distinct expertise in treating their particular type of cancer. The Center for Leukemia is closely affiliated with the Bone Marrow Transplantation Program, where innovative techniques such as umbilical cord blood transfusion and the ability to conduct a transplant with a mismatched family donor offer more options to patients.

Expertise in Diagnosing and Staging Cancers
Effective treatment and good outcomes depend on an accurate diagnosis.  The hematopathologists at the Center for Leukemia are world-renowned for their expertise in the diagnosis of various types of leukemia. Due to its reputation, our pathology department examines a large number of tissue samples. This amount enables each pathologist to develop a specialized knowledge, keep up-to-date on new research, and offer second opinions.

The pathology department has state-of-the art technology, including:

  • Advanced microscopy with the highest level of magnification available
  • Flow cytometry technology that allows for the detection of minimal residual disease
  • A broad range of histochemical analyses
  • Cytogenetics technologies that examine the chromosomes of cells from samples of peripheral blood, bone marrow, or lymph nodes
  • Molecular evaluation techniques of cancer cells that deliver more precise diagnoses and offer new options for treatment.

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Research and Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies of new drugs, new combinations of drugs or already approved drugs being studied to treat patients in new/different ways. They may include new drug doses or new ways (schedules) to give the drugs. Clinical trials are run under strict guidelines. Their purpose is to help find out whether new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard (current) treatment. At Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, there are several clinical trials open for the treatment of leukemia that use the latest in cancer treatments.

Cancer is increasingly becoming a disease in which the genetic make-up of each individual cancer drives therapy. The Center for Leukemia also has access to clinical trials involving these targeted therapy approaches.

Click below to find listings of our current clinical and targeted therapy trials.

Find Clinical Trials for this ConditionFind Targeted Therapy Clinical Trials for this Condition

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Contact Us

If you have any questions or would like to speak with one of our physicians, please call the Center for Leukemia at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center at 617 724 1124. You can speak to a senior Leukemia physician 24 hours a day/ 7 days a week by calling Dr. Karen Ballen at 617-724-5700 beeper 31343.

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Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow.

Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, are produced in the bone marrow.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

The following related clinical trials and research studies are currently seeking participants at Massachusetts General Hospital. Search for clinical trials and studies in another area of interest.

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program

The Katherine A. Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program focuses on improving the quality of life and well-being of Cancer Center patients, their families and friends through free wellness services such as acupuncture and yoga. These services help you take care of your whole self — mind, body and spirit.

Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center

The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Center is a program that offers a range of support resources around the Cancer Center. The center has an ongoing mission to make support services, as well as respite and community-building areas, more accessible to patients and families throughout the Cancer Center.

Illuminations Program

Illuminations is a rotating art exhibit displayed in the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. The program aims to enlighten and encourage patients and their loved ones by enhancing our environment of care.

The PACT Program

The Marjorie E. Korff PACT program at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center provides psycho-educational support for parents who are patients.

Oncology Chaplaincy

Our oncology chaplain is familiar with the unique needs of those with cancer.

Home Disconnect

A home infusion pump may be part of your treatment plan. In some cases, you may have the option for disconnecting the chemotherapy from home. If this option applies to you, and you would prefer to disconnect from home, this instructional video will reinforce the teaching provided to you by your nurse in the Mass General cancer Center

patient

Request an appointment at the Cancer Center

Contact the Cancer Center to schedule an appointment with one of our cancer specialists

Discover the Cancer Center patient experience

Our approach to patient care unites cancer specialists across the hospital to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient, ensuring the best possible outcomes.

patient

Support the Center for Leukemia

Help our committed caregivers at the Center for Leukemia to provide the best possible care for patients while advancing research into new treatments.