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Leukemia - Treatment Overview

For childhood ALL

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) is the most common leukemia in children. Treatments for ALL in children aren't the same as treatments for adults, and are different for infants, children, and adolescents. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy with stem cell transplant, and targeted therapy.

The 5-year survival rates for childhood ALL are:6

  • For infants up to a year old, 62 out of 100 infants.
  • For children ages 1 to 14, about 89 out of 100 children.
  • For adolescents 15 to 19, about 50 out of 100 adolescents.

Improved treatments have increased survival in infants, children, and adolescents. These numbers are taken from reports that were done at least 10 years ago, before current treatments were available. So your child's actual chances of survival are likely to be higher than these numbers.

For childhood AML and other myeloid diseases

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) in children is grouped with other myeloid diseases that affect the blood and bone marrow, including chronic myelogenous leukemia. Treatment for each type is different, but include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplant, and targeted therapy.

Survival rates vary widely, depending on the individual child. The 5-year survival rates for childhood AML are:6

  • For children younger than 15, about 58 out of 100 children.
  • For adolescents aged 15 to 19 years, about 40 out of 100.

Improved treatments have increased survival in infants, children, and adolescents. These numbers are taken from reports that were done at least 10 years ago, before current treatments were available. So your child's actual chances of survival are likely to be higher than these numbers.

Additional information about childhood leukemia is provided by the National Cancer Institute.

  • For Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, see www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/childALL/Patient.
  • For Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Other Myeloid Malignancies, see www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/childAML/Patient.

Supportive care

Cancer treatment has two main goals: curing cancer and making your quality of life as good as possible. Palliative care can improve your quality of life by helping you manage your symptoms. It also can help you with other concerns that you may have when you are living with a serious illness.

For some people who have advanced cancer, a time comes when treatment to cure cancer no longer seems like a good choice. This can be because the side effects, time, and costs of treatment are greater than the promise of cure or relief. But this isn't the end of treatment. You and your doctor can decide when you may be ready for hospice care.

It can be hard to decide when to stop treatment to prolong your life and shift the focus to end-of-life care. For more information, see:

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: December 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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