Leukemia and lymphoma (Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's)
Leukemias are cancers of the blood-forming organs, and lymphomas are cancers of the lymphatic tissues. In general, leukemias and lymphomas respond well to the conventional treatment methods of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Because there are many different types of these cancers, treatment is based on the specific diagnosis of the disease.
NHL is the fifth most common type of cancer in the United States. The disease is difficult to treat, with an average 1-year survival rate of 70% and a 5-year survival rate of 51%. Approximately 90% of all non-Hodgkin's lymphomas are diagnosed in adults. The average age at diagnosis is in the early 40s, and the disease is slightly more common in men than in women. The risk for the disease increases throughout life. Other potential risk factors for the disease may include adult-onset diabetes of long duration and a history of previous cancers, according to a British study (Cerhan et al. 1997). Survival rates for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are variable, depending on the type of cell involved and the stage of the disease.
Although leukemia and lymphomas respond well to the conventional treatment methods of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, other potentially beneficial treatments are available. Vesanoid, a vitamin A analogue, has been approved for the treatment of promyelocytic leukemia. The medication inhibits cell division and allows cells to reach maturity and function normally. Although Vesanoid is approved in the treatment of only a specific type of leukemia, it may be beneficial in the treatment of other types of leukemia (but probably not CLL) and some types of lymphoma (Kerr et al. 2001).
Vitamin D3 and its analogs may induce certain leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells to differentiate into normal cells. If vitamin D3 supplements are used, the typical dose for cancer patients is 4000 IU a day.
Monthly blood tests to monitor serum calcium, kidney function, and liver function are necessary to prevent vitamin D3 toxicity. Although not specifically recommended for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, vitamins A and D3 may be beneficial because of their effects against a wide range of cancer cells.