Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) can progress rapidly if untreated. However, it is a difficult cancer to treat. It is often resistant to chemotherapy, so clinical studies involving bone marrow transplantation are currently the best therapies available.
In some cases, removing the spleen (splenectomy) is considered a possible treatment in addition to bone marrow transplantation. Because an enlarged spleen is one of the symptoms of JMML, it is thought that the spleen may harbor dormant leukemic cells. By removing this organ, those additional diseased cells are removed as well.
Dr. Ann Woolfrey, SCCA and Seattle Children's physician, is conducting a bone marrow transplant clinical trial looking at two types of transplants for the treatment of this disease and other leukemias.
After bone marrow transplantation, some patients do relapse. Additional transplantation may be required to put these patients into remission.