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Updating in the treatment of acute leukemia

Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood, which starts in the bone marrow, the soft tissue found in the center of the bones, where blood cells are formed. The variety of leukemia is determined by the type of cell affected and the rate at which the cells grow. To be precise, leukemia can be acute or chronic.

In the case of acute leukemias in adults, both myeloid and lymphoid, they are still diseases with unfavorable prognoses. Acute leukemia consists of excessive growth of very immature blood cells, also known as blasts. The disease is potentially fatal because there are not enough mature blood cells to prevent anemia, infection and hemorrhage.

A diagnosis of acute leukemia is established when there are 20% or more blasts in the bone marrow. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is more common in childhood and at the beginning of adulthood, although there is a second peak in the incidence of the disease in older people. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is more common in adults.

The different types of leukemia share some common symptoms, like fever, persistent fatigue or feelings of weakness, loss of appetite, unexplained weight loss, bruising and bleeding, difficulty breathing and petechiae (tiny red marks under the skin caused by hemorrhages).

In recent years, the hard work invested in research, pre-clinical and clinical, has enabled us to learn more about the tumor biology of these diseases and to develop targeted therapies.

Once again, the 8th edition of the ‘Updating in the treatment of acute leukemia’ conference will see international specialists come together to present the latest advances in the field. The event will take place on October 4 and 5 at the Rafael del Pino Auditorium in Madrid.

Dr. Adolfo de la Fuente, head of the Hematology Service