Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Leukemia - Treatment Overview

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


Most treatment plans for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have 3 steps. These are induction, consolidation, and maintenance.

  • Induction therapy kills leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow to induce remission. Treatments include chemotherapy and corticosteroids. Induction usually lasts 4 weeks and is done in a hospital. But some people who have ALL have leukemia cells with a certain gene change. This gene is called the Philadelphia chromosome. These people will be treated with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
  • Consolidation therapy kills 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. Treatments include more chemotherapy and may include stem cell transplant. This step may also include preventive treatment of the brain or spinal cord with radiation or chemotherapy. Consolidation usually takes several months but doesn't require staying overnight in the hospital.
  • Maintenance therapy also prevents any remaining leukemia cells from growing. This may be done using lower doses of chemotherapy than those used during induction or consolidation. Chemotherapy is given with pills and once-a-month intravenous (IV) treatment. Maintenance is often continued for up to 3 years, but during this time, most people are able to go back to being as active as they were before beginning treatment.

When there are no signs of leukemia for 5 years, a person is usually considered cured. But if the leukemia doesn't go into remission, or if it comes back within the first few years, treatments may include more chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant, or joining a clinical trial for new treatments.

    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    New! I AM Not Cancer Facebook Group
    Lung cancer xray
    See it in pictures, plus read the facts.
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    Ovarian cancer illustration
    Real Cancer Perspectives
    Jennifer Goodman Linn self-portrait
    what is your cancer risk
    colorectal cancer treatment advances
    breast cancer overview slideshow
    prostate cancer overview
    lung cancer overview slideshow
    ovarian cancer overview slideshow
    Actor Michael Douglas