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Cancer Awareness

Leukemia Awareness

September is Leukemia Awareness Month. Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. Leukemia occurs most often in adults age 55 and older, and is the most common cancer in children under age 15.

Leukemia is either acute (fast-growing) and worsens quickly or chronic (slower-growing) and worsens over time.

In 2022, more than 62,650 people are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia. In addition:

  • Leukemia accounts for 3.6% of all new cancer cases.
  • The overall 5-year survival rate for leukemia has more than quadrupled since 1960.
  • 62.7% of leukemia patients survive 5 years or more.


Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of leukemia requires specific blood tests, including an examination of cells in the blood and marrow.

Treatment and prognosis depend on the type of blood cell affected and whether the leukemia is acute or chronic. Chemotherapy and blood and marrow transplant are often used to treat leukemia.

Blood and marrow transplant (BMT) specialists at The University of Kansas Cancer Center are nationally recognized hematologists/oncologists. Leukemia patients in our blood and marrow transplant program have access to the most advanced treatment options available, including clinical trials.

To learn more about these treatments and our BMT program, call 913-588-1227 or toll-free 844-323-1227.

Be part of the cure

Thousands of patients with leukemia depend on the Be The Match Registry to find a donor to save their life. Be The Match is the largest marrow and stem cell registry in the world. It is operated by the nonprofit National Marrow Donor Program (NMDP).

The University of Kansas Cancer Center BMT program is the only institution in Kansas to be an NMDP-approved bone marrow collection center.

Here, you do not have to find your own donor. If you require a matching donor for BMT, your transplant team at the cancer center will find a donor for you. If one of your siblings is a match, he or she can donate. If not, we will search the Be The Match Registry and other registries to find a matching unrelated donor.

In addition to being the state’s only NMDP-approved collection center, The University of Kansas Cancer Center:

  • Recruits potential donors in Kansas and western Missouri to the Be The Match Registry
  • Educates donors about the registration and donation process

Our leukemia research

Targeting a frequent culprit in blood cancers

Researcher Ramesh Balusu, PhD, is working to uncover what happens behind the scenes leading to the development of certain types of blood cancers. “The life of a healthy cell follows more than a dozen different steps to mature,” Balusu says. If the process fails at any point during this process, it creates a traffic jam and cancer develops. Learn more.

Returning bone marrow to its spongy state

Bone marrow makes more than 200 billion blood cells every day; it is soft and spongy. But a type of chronic leukemia, primary myelofibrosis, changes the marrow until it is brittle and no longer able to make blood cells. The University of Kansas Cancer Center researcher Rekha Rao Manepalli, PhD, searches for clues to better understand the process and potentially how to reverse it. Learn more.

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