Leukemia is cancer that starts in blood tissues, usually the bone marrow. It causes the body to produce large numbers of blood cells, which then enter the blood stream.

Lymphomas begin in white blood cells in the immune system. Both cancers can be slow growing (chronic) or fast (acute), and there are many subtypes, depending upon the type of cell in which they originate.

Leukemia and lymphoma are not solid tumors, such as those found in the breast or lung, for example, making them difficult to treat.

Research Highlights for Lymphoma

  • Researchers have uncovered a new, deadly, and rare intestinal lymphoma that is common in Asia. It originates from a unique cell type found in the intestine. This is significant because oncologists are now able to diagnose these lymphoma patients more accurately and tailor effective treatment strategies.
  • The American Cancer Society also reports progress in understanding DNA changes in lymphomas. This information will lead to better diagnostic tests, which will help oncologists determine the type of lymphoma, how likely it is to grow and spread, if treatment is likely to be helpful, and if the cancer is destroyed by treatment, how likely a relapse is.

Research Highlights for Leukemia

  • The underlying causes of two types of leukemia, chronic neutrophilic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia, are still unclear. However, scientists have identified mutations common in both cancers, which may provide useful criteria for diagnosing these diseases. Since there are no viable treatment options, it's difficult to distinguish these two subtypes from other leukemias.
  • The Cancer Genome Atlas has also classified genomic alterations that frequently underlie the development of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). Unlike most solid tumors, which have hundreds of mutations, AML genomes only have about 13, which mean fewer targets for potential drug therapies.

What the Research on Leukemia and Lymphoma Means for You

According to the National Cancer Institute, these new findings may help scientists develop potential new drug targets and treatment strategies, and offer better guidance for predicting the severity of the disease for individual patients. Researchers can examine patient samples for mutation patterns and affected pathways, and begin new studies to try to understand the relationship between these genetic mutations and treatment results.

It takes time for findings such as these to translate into clinical practice. If you have leukemia or lymphoma, ask your physician about participating in clinical trials, which are an important step before making new diagnosis and treatment options available to patients.

Swaminathan Padmanabhan Iyer, MB, BS, MD, reviewed this article.



Asian Scientist. "Researchers Identify New Type Of Intestinal Lymphoma." Web. 1 April 2013.

National Cancer Center. "TCGA Researchers Identify Potential Drug Targets, Markers for Leukemia Risk." Press release. Web. 1 May 2013. http://www.cancer.gov/newscenter/newsfromnci/2013/TCGA_AML

National Cancer Institute. "What You Need To Know About Leukemia." Web. 25 November 2008. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/wyntk/leukemia

American Cancer Society. "What's New In Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Research." Web. 27 March 2013.http://www.cancer.org/cancer/non-hodgkinlymphoma/detailedguide/non-hodgkin-lymphoma-new-research

Maxson, Julia E., Ph.D., Gotlib, Jason, M.D., Pollyea, Daniel A., M.D., Fleischman, Angela G., M.D., Ph.D., Agarwal, Anupriya, Ph.D., Eide, Christopher A.,  B.A., Bottomly, Daniel, M.S., Wilmot, Beth, Ph.D., McWeeney, Shannon K., Ph.D., Tognon, Cristina E., Ph.D., Pond, J. Blake, M.S., Collins, Robert H., M.D., Goueli, Basem, M.D., Ph.D., Oh, Stephen T., M.D., Ph.D., Deininger, Michael W., M.D., Ph.D., Chang, Bill H., M.D., Ph.D., Loriaux, Marc M., M.D., Ph.D., Druker, Brian J., M.D., and Tyner, Jeffrey W., Ph.D. "Oncogenic CSF3R Mutations in Chronic Neutrophilic Leukemia and Atypical CML." New England Journal of Medicine 368 (2013): 1781-1790. Web. 9 May 2013. http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1214514

Knight Cancer Institute at Oregon Health & Science University. "Discovery Pinpoints Cause of Two Types of Leukemia, Providing Insights Into New Treatment Approach." Web. 9 May 2013. http://www.ohsu.edu/xd/about/news_events/news/2013/05-09-discovery-pinpoints-caus.cfm