The goal of treatment for
leukemia is to destroy the leukemia cells and allow
normal cells to form in your
bone marrow. Treatment decisions are based on the
kind of leukemia you have, its
stage, and your age and general health.
Treatment for acute leukemia
Chemotherapy is the
use of drugs to fight cancer. It is the usual treatment for acute
leukemia. For most people, that means receiving drugs
Treatment of refractorychronic lymphocytic leukemia may include the following:
A clinical trial of chemotherapy with stem cell transplant.
A clinical trial of a new treatment.
Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. General...
The goal of induction is to kill leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to induce remission. During remission, there are no signs or symptoms of leukemia.
The goal of consolidation is to kill any leukemia cells that may be present even though they don't show up in tests. If these cells regrow, they could cause a relapse.
The goal of maintenance also is to prevent any remaining leukemia cells from growing. This may be done using lower doses of chemotherapy than those used during induction or consolidation. This is only used in people with ALL and a few rare forms of AML.
Some types of acute leukemia spread to the brain and
spinal cord. Regular chemotherapy cannot 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.
Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. Radiation is usually given from a machine outside the body that directs radiation to the cancer (external radiation). Radiation is also used to treat acute leukemia that
has spread to the brain and spinal cord.
Stem cell transplant may be part of the treatment plan for people who have
high-risk acute leukemia. Most stem celltransplants for leukemia are
allogeneic, meaning the stem cells are donated by
someone else. The goal of a transplant is to destroy all the cells in your bone
marrow, including the leukemia cells, and replace them with new, normal
Treatment if acute leukemia gets worse
leukemia gets worse in spite of treatments. Sometimes
it gets better, or "goes into remission." Sometimes it comes back, or
"relapses." Even when that happens, there are several treatments that may help
to cure the leukemia or help you live longer:
Chemotherapy. Sometimes medicines or
doses that are different from those used during your initial chemotherapy can help.
Clinical trials. People who
have leukemia may enter a research program when they first start treatment or
if the leukemia is not getting better. These programs test new ways to treat
the disease. For more information, see www.cancer.gov/clinical_trials/ or