Treatment for Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Bradley Somer, MD
Last Modified: November 1, 2001

My grandmother has just found out she has acute myeloid leukemia. I was wondering why she couldn't just have new blood put into her system. (Through one of the machines that cleans your blood when you have kidney could take out the blood like you were cleaning the blood and then put in "new" blood.)  
Thank you for you time.

Bradley Somer, MD, OncoLink editorial assistant, responds:

Dear J.,
T hat is an excellent question. Unfortunately, Acute Myelogenous Leukemia is not that simple to manage. Although the bad cells, which cause problems, circulate in the blood stream, the main problem is that she is producing abnormal cells in the bone marrow, which is where the disease really is. However you are absolutely right. There are situations where the white blood cells become so dangerously high that we do a procedure called plasmapharesis where we take out the bad blood and give good blood. This however, is temporary, as the bone marrow continues to be bad and produce abnormal cells, thus further therapy is always required.