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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia continued...

You receive chemotherapy in cycles. This gives the body a rest period for recovery.

Monoclonal antibodies. These are lab-created versions of immune system proteins. They work by helping the immune system attack cancer cells. Some examples are:

You receive these drugs by vein (IV) or injection under the skin.

Surgery. This is rarely needed. A surgeon removes the spleen if leukemia spreads here. This provides relief from pressure on other organs. But it does not cure the disease. Surgery may also improve blood cell counts.

Radiation therapy. This treatment uses high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Doctors use it less often for CLL than chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies. But it can help with symptom control by shrinking enlarged organs.

Stem cell transplant. This uses high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation to wipe out your bone marrow and cancer cells. Then you receive new stem cells, retrieved earlier from you or from a donor with a closely matched tissue type. Because it is not clear how effective these transplants are for CLL, doctors use them mainly in clinical trials.

You may need other types of treatment such as antibiotics or blood transfusions to relieve symptoms or side effects of treatment.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on March 27, 2014

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