Chemotherapy is the standard treatment for
many types of
leukemia. Even when a cure isn't possible,
chemotherapy may help you live longer and feel better.
Chemotherapy for leukemia is usually a combination of drugs. This is
because different drugs attack leukemia cells in different ways. The
combination also helps keep the leukemia cells from becoming resistant to any
For more information, U.S. residents may call the National Cancer Institute's (NCI's) Cancer Information Service toll-free at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237) Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time. A trained Cancer Information Specialist is available to answer your questions.
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Along with the chemotherapy drugs, other medicines may be given to help the chemotherapy drugs work better and prevent infection or bleeding. These drugs include epoetin and hematopoietic stimulants.
Some types of acute leukemia spread to the brain and spinal cord. Regular chemotherapy can't reach those areas, because your body puts up a special barrier to protect them. A different way of giving chemotherapy, called intrathecal chemotherapy, treats these areas by injecting the drugs directly into your spinal canal to attack any leukemia cells there.
For acute leukemia
Your treatment plan will include the kind of medicine that works best for the specific type or subtype of leukemia that you have.