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Can stem cells help Chronic Leukaemia?

Chronic leukaemia is a debilitating disease, affecting thousands of people in the UK every year. Did you know that it can be treated with stem cell therapy and you can invest in a possible future treatment by banking stem cells from your baby’s umbilical cord for them and for close family members? The wonderful thing about stem cells harvested and put into storage is that they can later become any type of cell that the body needs, including those depleted by chemotherapy used to treat leukaemia.

What is chronic leukaemia?

The term chronic leukaemia means a condition where there is an elevated number of abnormal white cells in the peripheral blood (the blood that circulates throughout the body). It is also referred to as cancer of the white cells.

It tends to develop slowly, and symptoms may not be apparent for a long time. When symptoms do appear they could take the form of persistent infections, anaemia and weight loss. It is usually considered a long-term disease that can’t be cured but can be well managed.

There are a number of different types of chronic leukaemia. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukaemia, arising when the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells called lymphocytes, which in this case are abnormal and don’t help you to fight infection.

In Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia (CML), the bone marrow produces more myeloid cells than it should. These are white blood cells that haven’t matured and don’t work properly.

Juvenile Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia (JCML), sometimes referred to as Juvenile Myelomonocytic Leukaemia (JMML), affects children, most commonly under the age of four. It occurs when the white blood cells known as monocytes are abnormal and lead to symptoms such as bruising, nosebleeds, lethargy and skin rashes.

How can chronic leukaemia be treated?

While treatment is sometimes not needed for some types of chronic leukaemia to start with as it is slow-growing, eventually most patients will need some sort of therapy.

Treatment for chronic leukaemia includes chemotherapy or medication to stop the cancer cells growing and multiplying. Unfortunately, this type of treatment often comes with unpleasant side effects such as tiredness, nausea and vomiting and hair loss, as well as a vulnerability to infection as it damages normal bone marrow and blood cells as well.

Radiotherapy is also sometimes used to reduce swollen lymph nodes and surgery is sometimes an option if a swollen spleen needs to be removed.

What part can stem cells play in treatment of Chronic Leukaemia?

In stem cell therapy, stem cells are used to replace blood cells damaged by chemotherapy. This means that patients can receive higher doses of chemotherapy than they would otherwise be able to.

In a cord blood transplant, stem cells travel to the bone marrow through the patient’s blood and start producing new, healthy blood cells. This means that damaged cells are replaced and the fresh cells build a new immune system which fights off cancer cells and infections, so restoring health.

The benefit of using a patient’s own stem cells means that they won’t be susceptible to Graft Versus Host Disease, where donated blood stem cells see the patient’s body as ‘foreign’ and attack it.

How can I bank stem cells for the future?

At Stem Protect, while we do not offer stem cell therapy, we do provide a service for taking and banking stem cells for future medical treatments, including therapy for chronic leukaemia.

This safe, painless procedure could be the greatest investment you will ever make, providing a lifeline to your child or other family members at their time of need. To know more about our stem cell banking services, fill out our form for the first step to safeguarding your family’s future health.

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