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The Hematological (blood-related) Cancer Program at the Swedish Cancer Institute has earned a reputation for unsurpassed quality of care. Our comprehensive approach to diagnosis and treatment benefits patients facing leukemia. A multidisciplinary team of specialists meets regularly to share insights, consider alternative approaches and collaborate on the best possible care strategy for every patient.


Leukemia is cancer of the blood or bone marrow, where blood cells are produced. Bone marrow is the soft tissue found in the hollow interior of bones. Leukemia, which means “white blood,” is a disease characterized by an abnormally high incidence of white blood cells. Many times these extra cells are immature or dysfunctional. 

Diagnostic Tests

Diagnostic tests for leukemia include a thorough physical exam as well as blood tests and sometimes a bone marrow biopsy.

  • Complete Blood Count (CBC) – provides information regarding the kinds and numbers of cells in the blood including red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • Peripheral Blood Smear – to monitor cell production and evaluate the maturity of cells and platelets.
  • Blood Chemistry – reveals abnormal chemicals that may be present in the blood.
  • Bone Marrow Aspirate – removes a small amount of bone marrow fluid through a needle. The fluid is evaluated for abnormalities in cell production.
  • Bone Marrow Biopsy – removes bone with the marrow inside, in order to evaluate the marrow and fluid under a microscope.

Treatments and Procedures

A number of treatment options are aimed at eliminating the disease to reach a state of complete remission. Swedish offers a full range of state-of-the-art treatments including:

  • Intensive chemotherapy – the most current anti-cancer drugs and treatment protocols are put into practice with promising clinical-research.
  • Stem-cell transplants – a patient’s own cells are taken from bone marrow or blood, cleansed of any cancer cells and injected back into the bloodstream after high-dose chemotherapy.
  • Immunotherapy (Biological Therapy) – many substances found naturally in the immune system can be reproduced in the laboratory and used to treat cancer. Immunotherapy can help stimulate immune cells, improve the way the immune system responds to cancer and encourages stem cells to develop into healthy blood cells.
  • Radiation Therapy

Learn more about the stem cell transplant process in these 3 videos:

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Research and Clinical Trials

If your physician believes you are a good candidate to participate in a clinical trial evaluating a new treatment or more effective combinations of treatments — and you agree — you will have access to the very latest in research treatments.

At any given time, the Swedish Cancer Institute offers patients more than 140 clinical-research studies involving most types of cancers.  Additionally, our physician specialists collaborate with other regional and national research groups, including  Southwest Oncology Group, National Cancer Institute, Puget Sound Oncology Consortium and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Education and Support for Patients and Families

Beyond physical health, the Swedish Cancer Institute is committed to the emotional well-being of our patients and their families. We offer:

Complementary therapies include:

See Patient Support and Resources and Services for the Body, Mind and Spirit at Swedish.