Hairy Cell Leukemia Treatment

Hairy cell leukemia is one of the rare species of blood cancer.Treating hairy cell leukemia in Israel is based mainly on cytotoxic and biological therapies. Due to the progressive techniques practiced at Herzliya Medical Center, the majority of patients achieve sustained remission.

Hairy cell leukemia is characterized by the abnormal activity of the bone marrow, producing large amounts of immature B cells - a subspecies of white blood cells (WBCs).Due to the peculiarities of their structure - irregular shape of the membrane - atypical B cells look under a microscope as "hairy" cells.As the disease progresses, the number of abnormal blood cells increases, and concurrently reduces the amount of functional leukocytes, erythrocytes and platelets.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Causes

The causes of hairy cell leukemia are not currently understood.It is assumed that in its development different risk factors play a role: exposure to ionizing radiation, exposure to chemicals, pesticides, wood dust and sawdust.Treatment of hairy cell leukemia is to achieve a sustained remission - periods when symptoms are absent.Radical means that can provide the patient a full recovery, to date, does not exist.At the same time, thanks to the use of cytotoxic and biological therapy, achieved remission can be sustained over several years.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Symptoms and Complications

Symptoms of hairy cell leukemia in the early stages of the disease may be completely absent or resemble symptoms of other pathologies.In particular, the patient can be observed with:

  • Severe weakness and weight loss
  • Decreased immunity, frequent infections
  • Loss of appetite, early satiety
  • Bleeding, bruising

Atypical B-lymphocytes accumulated in the spleen and lymph nodes, result in the development of splenomegaly (enlargement of spleen) and lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes).The enlargement of the spleen leads to a compression of the abdomen and can give a false feeling of fullness or discomfort while eating.

Complications of hairy cell leukemia is associated with a sharp decline in the number of normal blood cells.An underlying leukopenia (deficiency of white blood cells), that is a decrease in immunity and a tendency to recurrent infections, can be an identifying factor.Thrombocytopenia reduces blood clotting and bleeding development.Erythropenia result in anemia.It is also believed that hairy cell leukemia increases the risk of secondary cancer, in particular of non-Hodgkin's and Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Diagnosis

Inspection.During the examination, the doctor examines the state of the spleen and lymph nodes.
Laboratory tests of blood.In general, the clinical analysis of blood marked pancytopenia - reducing the number of all types of blood cells.In a blood smear there are specific "hairy" cells.
A bone marrow biopsy.The resultant puncture in the bone marrow sample is examined under a microscope for the presence of atypical cells.
Computed tomography (CT).With CT lymphadenopathy and splenomegaly can be accurately diagnosed.In severe splenomegaly a splenectomy the removal of the spleen will be performed.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Treatment in Israel

Cancer treatment in Israel almost always begins immediately after diagnosis.However, in case of hairy cell leukemia the immediate initiation of treatment is not always appropriate.In the absence of severe symptoms it may be limited to monitoring, putting therapeutic interventions for a later date.

If the patient’s clinical signs of the disease are present, chemotherapy will be conducted.Chemotherapy or cytostatic therapy is widely used for the treatment of cancer in Israel.When hairy cell leukemia is diagnosed, two drugs are administered:

Cladribine - the most efficient drug.The majority of patients after therapy with cladribine observed long-term remission.At a relapse a second course will be administered.
Pentostatin has a similar therapeutic effect with cladribine.The course of treatment lasts 3-6 months.

In recent years, biological therapy has been used in cancer treatment in Israel.Biologicals contribute to the destruction of cancerous tumors by the immune system, helping it to identify malignant cells with a number of specific features. Biological therapy for hairy cell leukemia is indicated for inefficiency or individual intolerance of chemotherapy.For this purpose:

Interferon - a drug that promotes remission for a limited time.Interferon treatment lasts 1 year.
Rituximab - a drug based on monoclonal antibodies.

Splenectomy - removal of the spleen - not currently considered as the standard treatment for hairy cell leukemia.At the same time, after the operation there is stabilization of the main indicators of the analysis of blood and remission. Indications for splenectomy is a severe degree of splenomegaly and splenic capsule rupture.

One of the benefits of treatment at Herzliya Medical Centeris an individual approach to each patient's personal treatment plan, drawn up taking into account the characteristics and history of the disease.When hairy cell leukemia is diagnosed, this approach allows you to achieve positive results and alter the treatment strategy of non-intervention and monitoring of the patient to intensive care if necessary.

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