Improving how we manage acute leukaemia in pregnancy

Lead researcher - Dr Sahra Ali, Castle Hill Hospital
A prospective registry-based cohort study to monitor the diagnosis and management of acute leukaemia in pregnancy
Amount awarded: £71,112
Award start date: 01 Jun 2018
Award duration: 3 years (36 months)

Acute leukaemias are aggressive blood cancers that can affect people of any age, including people who are currently pregnant or may want to bear children in the future. Especially for people who are currently pregnant, this means that medical professionals have a difficult balancing act: to treat the cancer effectively without harming the foetus.

Evidence suggests that chemotherapy can be used successfully and is considered safe in the treatment of acute leukaemia in pregnancy. Dr Ali has previously put together guidelines surrounding this; however, they were mainly based on the opinions of experts in the field.

Dr Ali now wants to update the guidelines, so they capture information on how people with aggressive leukaemia are treated, and what their outcome was. She is creating a registry to identify and monitor all cases of acute leukaemia in pregnancy in the UK. The registry will contain information on treatment choices, outcomes and side effects for the parent and the child, in people who are pregnant at the time of treatment or become pregnant after treatment. Eventually, this information will be used to create clear recommendations for how to treat and manage acute leukaemia in pregnant people and those who might later want to become pregnant, offering both the parent and baby the best chances of survival.