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At the press conference today announcing Colts head coach Chuck Pagano's cancer diagnosis, Dr. Larry Cripe of Indiana University's Health Simon Cancer Center was introduced. Cripe is the doctor working with Pagano on his treatment for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL or APML).
Cripe told the media present that he met Pagano on Wednesday of last week. At the urging of Pagano's wife, Tina, the Colts head coach went to Dr. Cripe because of some bruising the coach was experiencing. Cripe stated the bruising was consistent with leukemia, and Pagano was hospitalized that day (Wednesday).
Pagano is now in the first stage of treatment of APML, a treatment Cripe described as "long and complicated, and we're just starting now."
For the next 4-6 weeks, Pagano will remain in an isolated, protective environment at a local Indianapolis hospital while he undergoes chemotherapy and other treatments. Though Cripe described the illness as a cancer of the bone marrow tissue, a bone marrow transplant is not required. However, transfusions and chemotherapy are.
Cripe said he could not say when Pagano will feel well enough to coach again, but he did stress that the goal of this treatment is to return the Colts head coach to the life he wants to lead. Cripe also made it clear that patients with this type of leukemia have strong likelihood of remission.
Roughly 1,300 people are year are diagnosed with APML every year, per Dr. Cripe. After this initial 4-6 week treatment, Pagano is expected to return home with his family. Regardless of how quickly he responds to the treatment and, hopefully, returns to work, he will receive continuous treatments for roughly the next two years.
For more information on APML and its treatment, visit the IU Simon Cancer Center's website.