Skip to content

    Leukemia & Lymphoma

    Font Size

    Targeted Therapy for Leukemia May Prove a Breakthrough

    WebMD Health News

    April 4, 2001 -- Cindy Littrell of Salem, Ore., has leukemia -- chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML, to be exact. Diagnosed in February 1993 at age 45 by a blood test taken during a routine physical exam, she later endured a bone marrow transplant in an attempt to rid her body of the disease.

    After the bone marrow transplant, she was hospitalized and treated with full-body radiation and chemotherapy.

    "I was in a 'bubble room,'" she tells WebMD. "I could not have anyone come in the room unless they were totally sanitized and properly attired. I was alone. It was a very lonely feeling. I was in there for 30 days. You're exhausted from the chemotherapy and radiation. [The treatment] destroys your taste buds for a while, and you don't feel like eating, although they want you to eat. You're fed protein and that sort of thing intravenously. You try and exercise and move to build your strength up."

    Littrell was back at work in a record six months, but five years later the leukemia was back, discovered again through a routine blood test. Standard treatments either didn't work or made her too sick. Her doctors considered giving her a second bone marrow transplant, even though they knew it would be even harder on her this time and less likely to work. While making plans for a second transplant, they found that Littrell had moved from the early or chronic stage of the disease to the more aggressive, accelerated phase called the blastic phase.

    Until recently, a diagnosis of accelerated or acute CML was practically a death sentence, but for Littrell this was good news. It meant she was eligible to participate in a clinical trial of an experimental drug being conducted by Brian Druker, MD, a professor of medicine at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. Druker helped develop the drug called STI571.

    STI571 represents the latest phase in cancer research and therapy where drugs are designed to target the specific molecular abnormalities that cause disease, and it is being hailed as a breakthrough for CML.

    1 | 2 | 3 | 4

    Today on WebMD

    stem cells
    What are they and why do we need them?
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Do you know the symptoms?
    Vitamin D
    New Treatments For Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma
    Lifestyle Tips for Depression Slideshow
    Pets Improve Your Health