Crohn's Disease Forum » Your Story » Is there a definate link between Crohn's and leukemia?

06-28-2013, 11:28 PM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Is there a definate link between Crohn's and leukemia?

I am really worried about my daughter. She is 20 years old and has just been diagnosed with CD. My worry is that this came on so suddenly. She has been completely debilitated by it. Every day I think and hope today will be the day she feels better, but it never happens. So as her mother I worry and would like to figure out if CD is her only problem. I was thinking earlier about the fact that her aunt died as a young girl from Leukemia so I know she is already genetically predisposed. She is very anemic however her B12 is on the elevated side. I do not have exact numbers in front of me but the doctor left a message before her last hospitalization that he was concerned with her white blood count. She is on 6mp, and has not really shown any signs of feeling better. She was diagnosed in April, and has been in the hospital twice, and honestly has no energy to do anything other than sit and read, watch TV or sleep. She does work a few days a week, however she spends her time there either outside for air or in the restroom.
I really would like to know if there is a link between the two diseases, and will the Gastroenterologist be looking for the leukemia, or should she be seeing our family Doctor as well for additional tests? I am not a Doctor, but I do know other people with CD and they seem to lead pretty normal lives, she does not, she had to take a leave from school, and as I said, she is only working a few days per week. Is this a normal thing? or is Leukemia a valid concern???
06-28-2013, 11:51 PM   #2
Super Moderator
DustyKat's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New South Wales, Australia
Hi and

I am so very sorry to hear that your daughter is unwell.

I am not aware of any link between CD and Leukaemia. The heavier drugs used to treat Crohn's are capable of causing cancer, albeit rarely, and the type of cancer linked with them tends to be a type of Lymphoma.

Now the thing is, when you have moderate to severe Crohn's, that is flaring, many of the symptoms you describe will be present.

A Full Blood Count (CBC) which is a normal test that would be run tests levels and appearance of white and red blood cells, therefore leukaemia should be picked with this test as the the affected white bloods cells (there are 5 different types) would be immature and large in appearance and can lead to an increased white cell count. To be honest, if they suspected Leukaemia I imagine they would not have stopped at a message when trying to contact you.
6MP suppresses the immune system and it does this by targeting the white blood cells. Perhaps the concern is that your daughter is too immunosuppressed so her white cell is too low.

It will take at least 3 months for 6MP to become fully therapeutic and for some that will stretch out to 6 months.

What dose is she on?

Did she have a TPMT test before commencing the drug?

Has she been on Prednisone?

My own kids were really knocked for six when they were diagnosed and I found it hard to believe they would ever look like those happy people in the brochures they hand you. Having said all that any concerns you have are valid and that needs to be addressed, so I would get back to the doctor that left the message and discuss it with them. Oh I realise now that there has been a hospitalisation since that message but still ring. I truly am confident that they would have picked up Leukaemia mum with all the blood tests that would have been run.

Where is your daughter's Crohn's located?

Sorry for all the questions and welcome aboard!

Dusty. xxx
Mum of 2 kids with Crohn's.
06-28-2013, 11:57 PM   #3
Super Moderator
DustyKat's Avatar
Join Date: May 2010
Location: New South Wales, Australia
PS I have copied my response here from the thread you have created in the Submit a Question Forum and deleted your thread.

I hope you don't mind me doing this. We are having issues with posts not being answered in that forum.

06-29-2013, 06:20 AM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Halifax, NS, Canada

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As a parent, we simply can't help but worry about our children. There is no 'off' switch that I'm aware of. I won't bore you with my story, but I can tell you that when this damned disease hit me... it came on me like a runaway train. Not a slow progression. So, comparing your daughters case to others you know with CD really isn't a viable option. It manifests itself in folks in so different ways, and at such different levels of intensity. A common theme on this site is the expression.. "every case is different". So, I would suggest to you that 'expecting' a leukemia connection from her symptoms is one thing, but that watching for it.. checking for it.. is a wise precaution. I lost someone I knew to it.. so your concern is valid. But the difference between her version of CD and others is not enough (by itself) to indicate that leukemia is in the picture. I hope this eases your fears. Has the family connection to leukemia been brought to her doctors attention? If not, then see it is. Pronto. The thing with leukemia is.. the sooner detected, the better.

Dx'd July, 2006
Meds: Flagyl, Cipro, Pred, AZA.. to no effect
Low Dose Naltrexone Nov 2007 - May 2014
Remicade June 17th, 2014

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