blood treat

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Treatments for Blood Cancers

The teams at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center and the Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers provide expert care at each step.

From your first exams through treatment — in Pittsburgh and beyond — our skilled oncologists and hematologists care for people with:

Our team:

  • Works with you and your blood disease doctor to decide the best treatment options for your type of blood cancer.
  • Offers a complete care approach that features the latest advances in blood cancer diagnosis and treatment.
  • Provides access to state-of-the-art clinical trials and support services.

Our goal is to give you the best chance for a cure.

How We Plan Your Blood Cancer Treatment

Our cancer doctors and surgeons work with you and your loved ones on a treatment plan based on your:

  • Type of blood cancer.
  • Subtype and stage.
  • Overall health.
  • Symptoms.
  • Cell type and genetic testing results.
  • Blood cell counts.

We'll also need to know:

  • Have you had blood cancer or any other kinds of cancer in the past?
  • Where the blood cancer cells are in your body?
  • Have blood cancer cells spread to your central nervous system?
  • How quickly do the cancer cells seem to be spreading?

Blood Cancer Treatments We Offer

Treatments for your blood cancer may include:

  • Chemotherapy: Your doctor may use these powerful drugs to kill blood cancer cells. Chemo treats cancer and may stop it from spreading. But it also damages healthy cells, which can cause side effects.
  • Immunotherapy: Your doctor may harness your immune system to fight blood cancer. It can also give the immune system a boost by changing the chemical environment of your cancer. Monoclonal antibodies and CAR T-cell therapy are forms of immunotherapy.
  • Radiotherapy: Your doctor will direct high doses of radiation at the part of your body where the cancer is. It destroys blood cancer cells and can also help control cancer-related pain.
  • Stem cell (bone marrow) transplantation: Your doctor will replace your damaged blood-forming stem cells with healthy stem cells. These stem cells grow into all types of blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets.
  • Watchful waiting: Your doctor may suggest routine appointments to check on your cancer rather than treatment. This approach is for slow-growing blood cancers.

How Do I Choose Treatment That's Best for Me?

Your care team at UPMC Hillman will tell you all the options for treating your blood cancer. But the final decision is yours to make.

You'll want to think about your treatment goals, side effects, benefits, and risks as you decide.

The goals of blood cancer treatment

Your doctor may use treatments that slow, stop, or eliminate your cancer.

Make sure you understand what your doctor thinks will happen when you agree on treatment. You have the right to know how your treatment might affect you.

Your doctor may also use palliative or supportive care to manage symptoms and side effects.

The side effects of each treatment option

The side effects of cancer treatment can be complex, so take the time to learn your options. For instance, long-term side effects might occur months or even years after treatment.

Talk with your care team about the possible long-term effects of each treatment option and how to manage them.

The risks and benefits of each treatment option

Each treatment option will come with the chance of positive and negative outcomes including the chance that:

  • Treatment may cure your blood cancer.
  • Serious short- or long-term side effects might occur.
  • Your cancer might come back after treatment.
  • You might live longer with (or without) treatment.
  • The treatment will affect your quality of life.

Blood Cancer Research and Clinical Trials at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center

UPMC Hillman in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in western Pennsylvania. And we're one of only three in the entire state.

This means you have access to a wide array of cutting-edge clinical trials.

Clinical trials are research studies that people can sign up for and may involve:

  • Testing new blood cancer treatments.
  • Finding new ways to diagnose blood cancer.
  • Searching for ways to prevent cancer.
Cancer clinical trials are vital to helping us learn how to improve cancer care and outcomes.

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center researchers currently offer about 500 clinical trials.

To learn more or find a study, see:

Blood Cancer Treatment at UPMC: Treating the Whole Person

At UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, we believe that the best blood cancer treatment starts with a focus on you.

Our support resources can help you and your loved ones feel more at ease and make your cancer treatments more effective.

  • Behavioral medicine — Psychologists and psychiatrists can help you plan for meeting the challenges of blood cancer.
  • Nutrition for blood cancer — Our experts can design a diet plan to help you regain strength or support your health.
  • Blood cancer pain management — Pain experts will work with your care team to relieve pain from blood cancer treatment.
  • Palliative care — This service aims to improve the quality of life for people whose blood cancer is no longer responding to treatments.
  • Social support — Social workers can help you manage the practical aspects of living with blood cancer.
  • Transfusion therapy — This is a method of importing healthy blood cells or platelets to replace cells destroyed by disease or treatment.
  • Interpreter services — Interpreters help global blood cancer patients with language barriers to understand and navigate the treatment process.

Our Blood Cancer Center Location

The Mario Lemieux Center for Blood Cancers is at UPMC's Hillman Cancer Center in Pittsburgh's Shadyside neighborhood.

The center offers:

  • Outpatient treatments for all types of blood cancers and disorders.
  • A caring team of blood cancer surgeons, doctors, nurses, and staff.
  • The latest stem cell therapies, clinical trials, and blood cancer treatments.

To make an appointment, call 412-864-6600. You can also arrange a visit through your PCP or other healthcare provider.

Cancer care close to home

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center has more than 200 cancer experts and 70 locations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, and western New York. And as one of the largest community cancer networks in the U.S., we're right in your backyard.

Find a UPMC Hillman Cancer Center doctor or location near you.

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