Posted by on Jul 27, 2017 in Blog, Hodgkin's lymphoma, Leukemia, Lymphoma, Multiple Myeloma, Non-Hodgkin lymphoma | 0 comments

Marathons are grueling 26.2 mile treks.  The Boston Marathon is the oldest (started in 1897) and is one of the Marathon Majors (along with London, New York, Tokyo, Berlin and Chicago).

Marathon Man Raising Money For LLS

In 2001, at age 48,  family practitioner, Larry Saltzman ran his first marathon in Chicago.  That started a  13 marathon odyssey to qualify for the Boston Marathon.   In the midst of this journey, on January 8, 2010, Dr. Saltzman learned that he had chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small cell lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL).  His friend and marathon trainer knew of his desire to run the Boston Marathon and came up with a plan: run the Boston to raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society‘s signature fundraising vehicle is the Team In Training Program. On finishing his first Boston Marathon in 2012, Dr. Saltzman raised over $39,000 for LLS.  Dr. Saltzman completed the Marathon twice more, in 2013 and 2014 raising over $200,000.  (He has completed 17 marathons as of 2017).  Throughout these efforts, he has been on the rollercoaster of CLL treatments, going through remissions and relapses and participating in clinical trials.  One, funded by the LLS, utilizes CAR T-cell therapy. Below is a video interview with Dr. Saltzman explaining CAR T-cell therapy.

Blood Cancers

One hundred and fifty thousand people are diagnosed each year with blood cancers.  Over one million people in the US are living with or in remission from blood cancers.  There are four broad categories of blood cancers:  Leukemia, Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, Myeloma and Myelodysplastic Syndromes.  Below is a brief description of leukemias.  Future posts will describe the other types.

Main types of Leukemia

There are four main types of leukemia.

Acute lymphocytic/lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is a blood cancer that is the most common cancer in children. Specifically, it is a cancer in the bone marrow where blood is produced.

The blood cells involved in ALL are white blood cells called lymphocytes, either B or T-cell. Immature lymphocytes (called lymphoblasts) are overproduced by the bone marrow, crowding out other blood cell development. These lymphoblasts are ineffective in fighting infection, their rapid production reduces the production of red blood cells and platelets leading to anemia and uncontrolled bleeding.

The most common form of ALL is B-cell.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is primarily a cancer of adults and is a slow growing cancer again involving lymphocytes.  It is the most common leukemia in adults.

Acute myeloid leukemia arises from myeloid blood cells which become red blood cells, platelets, granulocytes and monocytes (Be sure to check out 5 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Your Blood to understand these types of blood cells.)

About 10% of all leukemia is chronic myeloid leukemia.  With the advent of targeted therapies that can target tyrosine kinase enzyme, like Gleevec (Imatinib), 5-year survival of CML has increased  from 33% in the 1990s to 66% in the years 2006 through 2012.

CAR T-cell Therapy

The big news from Dr. Saltzman’s most recent email update (Summer 2017) is that “the FDA is about to approve a new treatment for blood cancer – CAR T therapy.”

In his capacity as an Executive Research Director at LLS, a position that is the “lemonade” from his lemons of blood cancer, Dr. Saltzman has been creating a national register of blood cancer patients.  If you would like to join this registry, which will allow researchers to  continue in their work on blood cancer treatments, go to https://CommunityView.lls.org.