Treatment for Plasma Cell Leukemia

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Primary and Secondary PCL

One of the rare cancers involving plasma cells, which are a sub-type of WBCs, is plasma cell leukemia. This is a lymphoproliferative disorder, which results in rapid multiplication of plasma cells in the blood stream. It is considered among the most aggressive conditions of leukemia. Among all the plasma cell disorders, this form of leukemia constitutes between 2 and 4 percent of all cases. There can be two different types of PCL conditions, known as primary PCL and secondary PCL. The origin of the primary PCL is de novo, where as the secondary condition arises when a condition of multiple myeloma becomes leukemic.

Signs and Symptoms of PCL

The initial signs of the disease may be general fatigue and tiredness in the patient. It may also be accompanied by loss of appetite and weight loss in some cases. The patient may show symptoms of forgetfulness and a confused state of mind. Physical symptoms can be an unexplained fever, heart palpitations, and pain in the bones and muscles.

If the condition reaches a more advanced stage, the physician will be able to identify some internal organ abnormalities by conducting various tests. These may include an enlarged liver, malfunctioning kidneys and an enlarged spleen. The patient may also suffer from leukocytosis and lymphadenopathy. The physician will be able to diagnose the condition by evaluating various signs and symptoms together.

Treatment of Plasma Cell Leukemia

Systemic chemotherapy is the primary treatment option for PCL. This must be accompanied by supportive care in order to achieve good results. There are various antibiotic regimens available for the treatment of this condition with chemotherapy. It is observed that a combination of different regimens or alternating between different regimens leads to better results as compared to relying only on a single regimen treatment.

Survival rates with combination chemotherapy of up to two years have been observed in contrast to just two to six months of survival when a single agent therapy is applied. Autologous stem cell transplantation is also being used in patients, with intermittent good results. Survival rates of two to three years have been observed with this treatment. Patients suffering from secondary PCL have shown a lower response rate to chemotherapy.

Some of the latest clinical trials have indicated that velcade based regimen may result in a greater benefit for the patients of PCL. There are other highly aggressive regimens such as DT-PACE which have also shown a considerably improved rate of response. However, these regimens make the aggressive condition go into a remission for a relatively shorter period of time only. Stem cell transplantation based latest treatments, in combination with aggressive chemotherapy, may offer an improved survival rate. The patients should explore this treatment option with their doctor. There is ongoing stem cell research to find more effective and curative treatments for PCL.