See Drugs Approved for Leukemia for more information.
Other drug therapy
Lenalidomide may be used to lessen the need for transfusions in patients who have myelodysplastic syndromes caused by a specific chromosome change.
Arsenic trioxide and all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) are anticancer drugs that kill leukemia cells, stop the leukemia cells from dividing, or help the leukemia cells mature into white blood cells. These drugs are used in the treatment of acute promyelocytic leukemia.
See Drugs Approved for Acute Myeloid Leukemia for more information.
Watchful waiting is closely monitoring a patient's condition without giving any treatment until signs or symptoms appear or change. It is sometimes used to treat MDS or TMD.
Supportive care is given to lessen the problems caused by the disease or its treatment. Supportive care may include the following:
- Transfusion therapy: A way of giving red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets to replace blood cells destroyed by disease or cancer treatment. The blood may be donated from another person or it may have been taken from the patient earlier and stored until needed.
- Drug therapy, such as antibiotics or antifungal agents.
- Leukapheresis: A procedure in which a special machine is used to remove white blood cells from the blood. Blood is taken from the patient and put through a blood cell separator where the white blood cells are removed. The rest of the blood is then returned to the patient's bloodstream.
New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied. Information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Biologic therapy is a treatment that uses the patient's immune system to fight cancer. Substances made by the body or made in a laboratory are used to boost, direct, or restore the body's natural defenses against cancer. This type of cancer treatment is also called biotherapy or immunotherapy.
Natural killer (NK) cells are a type of biologic therapy. NK cells are white blood cells that can kill tumor cells. These may be taken from a donor and given to the patient by infusion to help kill leukemia cells.