The internationally recognized subspecialists at the OSUCCC – James believe the best way to treat patients and manage their disease successfully is to deliver the latest, most effective treatments available and to work with nationally and internationally renowned experts to develop the newest and best chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) treatments and programs.

Because these renowned subspecialists understand that CLL is a complex disease, they use the most effective means of treating patients through an expert team approach from across multiple medical disciplines. These teams also run groundbreaking studies, and through detailed observations, evaluate the latest treatments and targeted therapies.

The OSUCCC – James team of experts also analyzes the genetic composition of each individual’s leukemia to determine the best possible treatment, offering improved outcomes, faster responses and fewer side effects.

Treatment Options

The OSUCCC – James is a leader in offering some of the world’s most advanced, sophisticated treatments for leukemia patients.

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) subspecialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on blood and bone marrow disorders and who reach across medical disciplines (hematologists, radiation oncologists, molecular and biological pathologists, genetic scientists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific leukemia.

Because of that knowledge and expertise, your OSUCCC – James experts’ treatment goal for CLL is complete remission — no more evidence of disease and a return to good health with normal blood and marrow cells.

CLL treatment options may include:

Watchful Waiting

Some patients’ CLL is slow-growing, and patients without symptoms often don't need to be treated immediately. They should, however, be regularly and closely monitored until signs or symptoms appear. This is called watchful waiting.

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells or keep them from growing.


Chemotherapy destroys the leukemia cells or stops them from dividing. Chemotherapy drugs can be taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle. When the drugs enter the bloodstream, they can reach cancer cells throughout the body (called systemic chemotherapy). Combination chemotherapy uses more than one anticancer drug.

Chemotherapy treatment usually takes place in an outpatient part of the hospital, at your doctor's office or in your home. Some people may need to stay in the hospital for treatment.

Chemotherapy with Stem Cell Transplant

Stem cell transplants enable patients to receive chemotherapy therapy treatment, and then later replace blood-forming cells that have been destroyed by cancer treatment.

Stem cells, which are immature blood cells, are removed from the blood or bone marrow of either the patient or a donor, and then they are frozen and stored. After chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into and restore the body's blood cells.

If a stem cell transplant is needed, the OSUCCC – James is the only central Ohio hospital to offer stem cell transplantation and has one of the most active, sophisticated programs in the entire nation.


Some patients who have CLL need to have their spleen removed if it has been affected by the leukemia. This procedure is called a splenectomy.

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapies are drugs that attack cancer cells without destroying healthy surrounding cells. These therapies are called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and they’re used to treat certain kinds of CLL.

Leukemia Biomarker Testing

The drugs work by blocking the enzyme (called tyrosine kinase) that causes stem cells to develop into more white blood cells (leukemia cells or blasts) than the body needs.

White Cell Growth Factor Therapy

Certain drugs, called growth factors, may improve low white blood cell counts while also helping CLL patients tolerate side effects of higher doses of chemotherapy.

Maintenance Therapy

After initial treatment, patients will usually receive maintenance therapy to help keep their CLL in remission. The OSUCCC – James subspecialists closely monitor patients with CLL because of their weakened bone marrow activity and increased likelihood to get infections.

Because there is always a chance that the cancer may come back or progress, it’s important to see your OSUCCC – James subspecialist regularly for follow-up exams.

Advanced Treatment Options for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Tumor Sequencing & Genomic Analysis

At the OSUCCC – James, our advanced treatment approach begins with something called tumor sequencing.

This sophisticated technology pinpoints the order (or sequence) of DNA in your tumor. By studying your specific genes and DNA changes, our leukemia experts can pinpoint what’s driving your chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Because of that detailed expert analysis, our team of CLL subspecialists can design a treatment specifically targeted to those particular changes.

Our testing is among the most comprehensive available anywhere, testing for more genetic mutations and molecular changes than nearly any other hospital or commercial laboratory in the nation. In fact, our experts can often match patients to targeted treatments that are available only in clinical trials conducted at the OSUCCC – James.


Immunotherapy, also called biologic therapy, boosts a CLL patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or in a laboratory are used to direct or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. Treatments can include treating patients with proteins that block tumor growth (called monoclonal antibodies) and vaccines.

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Research & Clinical Trials

For leukemia patients, clinical trials mean hope.

The OSUCCC – James has more than 500 open clinical trials at any given time, with some of the world’s latest discoveries available to clinical trial patients right here in Columbus, Ohio. In fact, patients have access to more of this nation’s leading-edge, targeted treatments and drugs than at most hospitals in America.  

Our world-renowned medical researchers performed the groundbreaking research and clinical trial study on a life-saving drug for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients. The drug, known as ibrutinib (or Imbruvica), attacks and destroys blood cancer cells, which in turn has saved thousands of lives and earned approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Who Should Participate in a Clinical Trial?

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during or after starting their individual treatments.

The OSUCCC – James is one of only a few U.S. cancer centers funded by the National Cancer Institute to conduct phase I and phase II clinical trials on novel anticancer drugs. These trials go only to centers that demonstrate an exemplary capacity for research and clinical care, the expertise to deliver the latest in treatments and the infrastructure to interpret and track treatment results.

If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a leukemia specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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