BALTIMORE — Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a slow-growing cancer that attacks certain proteins on white blood cells. Now, doctors have discovered an alternative to traditional chemotherapy for battling this disease.
Barry Taylor, a retired magician, has chronic lymphocytic leukemia — a blood cancer producing too many abnormal white blood cells.
“Your spleen and liver can enlarge, your bone marrow can become packed up with the leukemic cells,” Georgetown University Medical Director of Blood Disorders, Dr. Ralph Boccia explained.
Instead of staying on traditional chemo, Barry’s doctors are using new therapies to treat his cancer.
Dr. Boccia further explained, “We went from fairly fixed duration therapies, to now, take it until your disease gets worse again, so, we call that treat to progression – progression to cancer. Now, we have, kinda, come full circle, where we’re realizing we could put some of these combinations together, and can give them limited therapy that might last only a year or two.”
These drugs are critical for outsmarting cancer.
“He’s on a targeted drug called Acalabrutinib, a monoclonal antibody called Obinutuzumab, and another targeted drug called Venclexta,” Dr. Boccia said.
Barry expressed, “I was in the ICU, and things were getting bad, but when I got on this Venclexta, boy, it was a lifesaver.”
And now, Barry is in remission but is still on the drug therapies to keep his cancer at bay.
There can be side effects from any drugs, so Dr. Boccia recommends discussing treatment options with your hematologist. With these innovative therapies, doctors feel they may be getting close to a cure.
Contributors to this news report include Donna Parker, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer; Roque Correa, Editor.
Watch more news, weather and sports on News 8's YouTube channel