University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute | UCCI

Contact and Appointments: (513) 475-8500

Cancers We Treat

According to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 140,000 adults are diagnosed with a cancer affecting the blood or bone marrow annually in the United States.

Our Hematologic Malignancies Center offers specialized care for:

  • Leukemia (acute and chronic)
  • Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s)
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Myelodysplastic disorders – a group of diseases in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells
  • Plasma cell dyscrasia – a cancer of the plasma cells in the blood

Amyloidosis

Amyloidosis is a general name for a broad group of very rare disorders caused by the misfolding (incorrect formation) of more than 25 different types of proteins. These misfolded proteins form into what are called amyloids. Because amyloids are insoluble, they accumulate in tissues and organs and, over time, cause organ failure. AL amyloidosis (also called primary amyloidosis) and localized amyloidosis occur when abnormal proteins are produced by plasma cells in the bone marrow. 

The fellowship-trained physicians with the UC Cancer Institute Hematologic Malignancies Center are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of all types of amyloidosis, including the two types caused by abnormal proteins produced by plasma cells in the bone marrow (amyloid light chain (AL) amyloidosis and localized amyloidosis) that respond to cancer treatments.

  • AL amyloidosis: The UC Cancer Institute treats AL amyloidosis as a cancer of the plasma cells. It is the most common type of amyloidosis. It occurs when antibodies produced by plasma cells in the bone marrow – called immunoglobulin light chain proteins – misfold. These abnormal proteins travel from the bone marrow throughout the body and can affect any organ except the eyes and brain. Treatment of AL amyloidosis focuses on destroying damaged plasma cells through chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation. The use of steroids has also been proven effective in destroying the damaged plasma cells.
  • Localized amyloidosis: Like AL amyloidosis, localized amyloidosis is caused by abnormal immunoglobulin light chain proteins that are produced by plasma cells in the bone marrow. The difference is that these abnormal proteins travel with plasma cells to limited parts of the body, typically affecting the airway and throat, breast or bladder. Treatment options for localized amyloidosis of the airway and throat include minimally invasive laser surgery and radiation therapy. Localized amyloidosis of the bladder is often treated with medicine to minimize bleeding, though surgery may be required to remove the organ. The breast often must be removed by surgery.

Rare Disorder Requiring Rare Expertise

The International Society of Amyloidosis recommends that patients be treated by physicians with experience in amyloidosis. The University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute is one of only a few centers in the region specializing in the treatment of the disorder and the only one in Greater Cincinnati.

  • We understand the importance of a correct amyloidosis diagnosis. Because there are more than 25 types of abnormal proteins that can lead to many types of amyloidosis, a correct diagnosis is vital to treatment. Before making a diagnosis, our physicians carefully study a patient’s condition to ensure they are treated for the right type of amyloidosis. An abdominal fat pad biopsy or biopsy of a specific organ is performed to make a diagnosis. The biopsied tissue sample is analyzed to find the abnormal protein.
  • We evaluate the whole body. Amyloidosis can affect any part of the body. After diagnosing a patient with the disorder, our team performs several tests, including a bone marrow biopsy, blood work, a 24-hour urine collection and an echocardiogram (ECG) or cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). These tests determine which parts of the body have been affected, giving doctors a complete picture so they can provide comprehensive care.
  • We collaborate with specialists. Patients diagnosed with amyloidosis are supported by a whole team of UC Health specialists, including neurologists, otolaryngologists, cardiologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, pathologists and pharmacists. A patient can have his or her condition evaluated by a team of specialists, all within a few days.
  • We participate in amyloidosis research. We are learning more about amyloidosis every day through our participation in research, and we bring the benefits of research to patients through clinical trials.

The amyloidosis specialists at the UC Cancer Institute work with referring physicians to provide personalized, experienced care to patients. If you suspect amyloidosis, we can help.