Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma
Find a Specialist Near You
Houston Methodist’s experts are among the best worldwide in diagnosing and treating blood cancers, which include leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
We provide advanced care for these cancers at seven locations across the Greater Houston area, allowing you or your loved one to receive treatment close to home or work.
Why Choose Houston Methodist for Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma Treatment
Our specialists provide expert leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma care in an environment that's compassionate and supported by a team-based approach and research.
The benefits of choosing our expert cancer care team include:
- Oncologists who work together to develop a treatment plan tailored to your unique blood cancer and lifestyle needs
- Advanced diagnostics and treatment options, including molecular testing, immunotherapy and stem cell transplant
- Oncology nurse navigators who guide you through your leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma care — from diagnosis through survivorship
- Access to clinical trials offering potentially promising treatments not available to the general public
- Support through and beyond your recovery
Felecia's Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Story
Felecia believes she couldn’t have gotten through her treatment for acute myeloid leukemia without her faith, care team, family and support from fellow patient, Diana.
About Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma
What Causes Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma?
There are three main types of blood cancers:
- Leukemia – cancer of the blood or bone marrow; includes four main types: acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Lymphoma – cancer of the lymph nodes; includes two main types: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
- Myeloma – cancer of a type of white blood cell, or immune cell, called plasma cells
Leukemia occurs due to excessive production of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow. This ultimately limits the ability of the bone marrow to produce enough red blood cells (which carry oxygen and remove carbon dioxide) and platelets (needed for blood clotting). Leukemia can spread to many other regions of the body.
Lymphoma is a blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system — the tissues, organs, glands (lymph nodes) and vessels that collect and filter excess fluid (called lymph) and return it back into the bloodstream as plasma. As part of the immune system, the lymphatic system also produces some white blood cells. Lymphoma occurs when abnormal white blood cells grow out of control, eventually accumulating to levels that negatively affect the function of your lymph nodes, spleen and liver.
Myeloma, which is also called multiple myeloma, occurs when plasma cells (antibody-producing white blood cells) in the bone marrow become abnormal and grow uncontrollably. This limits the ability of the bone marrow to produce healthy blood cells and platelets. Additionally, these abnormal plasma cells don't produce functional antibodies. Instead, they produce nonfunctional antibodies, which can also contribute to issues as their levels build.
What Are the Risk Factors for Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma?
While the cause of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma aren't well understood, there are known factors that may raise your risk for developing these types of cancer.
Leukemia Risk Factors
Known risk factors vary for different types of leukemia, but include:
- Age – some forms of leukemia occur primarily in children, and others are most common in older adults
- Smoking – smoking is a known risk factor for one type of leukemic disease, acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- Family history – your risk of developing leukemia is increased if a family member has had the disease
- Radiation exposure – exposure to high levels of radiation, as in a nuclear accident, increases your risk for developing leukemia
- Certain chemical exposures – exposure to chemicals, such as benzene, can raise your risk for leukemia
- Genetic syndromes – some genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, heighten the risk of developing leukemia
- Sex – leukemia is slightly more common in men than women
Lymphoma Risk Factors
Known risk factors vary for different types of lymphoma, but include:
- Age – some lymphomas, such as Hodgkin’s disease, are common in younger people, but most occur in people in their 60s or older
- Mononucleosis – people who have had mononucleosis, an infection caused by the Epstein-Barr virus, are at an increased risk for developing Hodgkin’s disease
- Race and sex – some forms of lymphoma are more prevalent depending on your race or sex
- Geography – Hodgkin’s disease is less common in Asian countries
- Family history – your risk of developing lymphoma is increased if a family member has had the disease
- HIV/AIDS – infection with HIV/AIDS causes a weakened immune system and may heighten your risk for developing lymphoma
- Exposure to certain chemicals – long-term exposure to pesticides and petrochemicals may increase your risk of developing lymphoma
- Radiation exposure – exposure to high levels of radiation, as in a nuclear accident, increases your risk of developing lymphoma
- Autoimmune diseases – autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren syndrome, and the drugs used to treat them, may heighten the risk for certain lymphoma types
Myeloma Risk Factors
Known risk factors for myeloma include:
- Age – occurs most frequently in adults over 60
- Exposure to certain chemicals – long-term exposure to pesticides and petrochemicals may increase your risk of developing myeloma
- Radiation exposure – exposure to high levels of radiation, as in a nuclear accident, increases your risk of developing myeloma
- Personal history of solitary plasmacytoma of the bone
What Are the Symptoms of Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma?
Most early leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma symptoms are general in nature and likely not related to the diseases.
If you notice any of the following symptoms, however, talk to your doctor as soon as possible:
- Extreme fatigue or weakness
- Infections and fever
- Easy bleeding or bruising
- Bone or joint pain
- Abdominal swelling
- Loss of appetite and weight
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Coughing or trouble breathing
- Swelling of the face and arms
- Headaches, seizures or vomiting
- Rashes or gum problems
These symptoms may be due to something other than cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor.
How Are Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma Diagnosed?
If signs and symptoms suggest that you may have a type of blood cancer, your doctor may recommend one or more of the following exams and tests to find the cause:
- A medical history and physical exam – includes a review of your personal and family medical history, and an examination of your lymph nodes and other areas
- Blood tests – used to check the levels of several substances in your blood, such as red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets
- Bone marrow tests – samples from your bone marrow are collected and further examined
- Lumbar puncture (spinal tap) – used to identify abnormal/cancerous cells in the spinal fluid
- Biopsy – a lymph node or tumor mass is removed and further examined
- Imaging tests – includes X-rays, CT scans, bone scans and others, which can help determine whether (or how far) the disease has spread
Experts at Houston Methodist also use molecular genetic studies to identify any chromosome and gene abnormalities that may help direct or personalize treatment.
A correct diagnosis of leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma is essential for determining the most effective treatment option.
What Are the Treatment Options for Leukemia, Lymphoma & Myeloma?
Houston Methodist’s cancer experts work as a team to offer the most advanced treatments for blood cancers, including immunotherapy, targeted therapies and stem cell transplant. Our goal is to provide effective treatments, while preserving healthy tissue and cells.