Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month

Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month

Leukemia and lymphoma are cancers that affect the blood or bone marrow. 

Leukemia starts in the tissue that forms blood. Most blood cells develop from cells in the bone marrow called stem cells. In a person with leukemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells (leukemia cells). Unlike normal blood cells, leukemia cells don’t die when they should. They may crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This makes it hard for normal blood cells to do their work. 

An estimated 61,090 new cases of leukemia are expected to be diagnosed in the United States in 2021, according to federal statistics. Leukemia is the most common cancer in children younger than 15 years.

There are four major types of leukemia: acute myeloid leukemia (AML), which affects myeloid cells and grows quickly; chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which affects lymphoid cells and grows slowly; acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), which affects lymphoid cells and grows quickly; and chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which affects myeloid cells and usually grows slowly at first. AML and CLL are the most common types in adults, and ALL is the most common type in children. 

Lymphomas begin in cells of the lymph system, which is a part of the immune system. Lymph tissue is found throughout the body, therefore, lymphoma can begin almost anywhere. There are two basic categories of lymphomas: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).  

Hodgkin lymphoma is usually marked by the presence of a type of cell called the Reed-Sternberg cell in the lymph nodes. Hodgkin lymphoma may also occur in patients who have acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma includes a large, diverse group of cancers of immune system cells. Scientists typically categorize them as either slow-growing or aggressive. The most common types of NHL in adults are diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma. An estimated 81,560 people in the United States will be diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2021, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Both Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas can occur in children and adults.

September is Leukemia and Lymphoma Awareness Month. 

What is the AACR Doing in This Area?

Lymphoma- and Leukemia-Focused Conferences

In June 2021, the Foundation for the Institute on Oncology Research (IOR) held the International Conference on Malignant Lymphoma (ICML). The virtual meeting was organized by IOR in cooperation with the AACR. 

The AACR Special Conference: Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Myelodysplastic Syndrome will be held in February 2022 in Austin Texas. 

In 2021, the AACR has awarded research grants to investigators pursuing promising research related to lymphoma and leukemia research. 

Ferran Nadeu, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the August Pi i Sunyer Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBAPS) in Barcelona, Spain was awarded a 2021 AACR-Amgen Fellowship in Clinical/Translational Cancer Research. His fellowship project involved tracking the progression and transformation of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. 

“This award boosts my postdoctoral fellowship, setting the path towards an independent scientific career. I hope the results of this project will translate into better management strategies for patients.”

Daniel Herranz, PharmD, PhD, an assistant professor at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey earned a 2021 AACR-Bayer Innovation and Discovery Grant to research a novel mitochondrial uncoupling drug in the treatment of leukemia.

“This AACR-Bayer Innovation and Discovery Grant is widely recognized as an extremely prestigious award, bestowed only to the most innovative projects. Thus, it will be instrumental to consolidate my career as well as to propel our studies using mitochondrial uncoupling drugs.”

Antonin Papin, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, New York, was awarded the 2021 AACR-Incyte Immuno-oncology Research Fellowship. His research project aims to define the biologic role of linker histone H1 mutations in lymphomagenesis and identify new therapeutic strategies for H1-mutant lymphoma patients.

“I warmly thank the AACR and Incyte for funding my project to study lymphoma and develop new therapeutic options for lymphoma patients.”

Blood Cancer Discovery

In 2020, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) began publication of its newest journal, Blood Cancer Discovery. The journal is the ninth in the AACR’s prestigious portfolio of scientific publications,.

Hematologic malignancies account for about 10 percent of cancer cases and 9 percent of cancer deaths in the United States each year, Blood Cancer Discovery, enhances the AACR’s efforts to support the exchange of information in the exciting field of hematologic malignancies research.