Treatments for Childhood Leukemia continued...
Before cancer treatment begins, sometimes a child needs treatment to address illness complications. For example, changes in blood cells can lead to infections or severe bleeding and may affect the amount of oxygen reaching the body's tissues. Treatment may involve antibiotics, blood transfusions, or other measures to fight infection.
Chemotherapy is the main treatment for childhood leukemia. Your child will receive anticancer drugs by mouth, or into a vein or the spinal fluid. To keep leukemia from returning, there may be maintenance therapy that occurs in cycles over a period of two or three years.
Targeted therapy is also sometimes used for leukemia. This therapy targets specific parts of cancer cells, working differently than standard chemotherapy. Effective for certain types of childhood leukemia, targeted therapy often has less severe side effects.
Other types of treatment may include radiation therapy, which uses high-energy radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. It may be used to help prevent or treat the spread of leukemia to other parts of the body. Surgery is rarely used to treat childhood leukemia.
If standard treatment is likely to be less effective, a stem cell transplant may be the best option. It involves a transplant of blood-forming stem cells after whole body radiation combined with high-dose chemotherapy is performed first to destroy the child's bone marrow.