What are the treatment options for leukemia

The leukemia treatment can be decided considering many factors like type or subtype of leukemia, patient’s age, stage of the disease, genetic abnormality, current health condition of the patient etc. Leukemia is mainly a blood cancer in which the affected cells travel throughout the body and spread the disease. So treatment requires initially stopping of disease spread within the body and then complete removal of the body and its cause. Several treatment options have been designed as per the type of leukemia but targeted therapy has its own benefits in treating this disease. Even some of the leukemia cases required a mandatory watchful period to decide what can be the best line of treatment for that particular type.

What are the different leukemia treatment options?

Your doctor can decide the best leukemia treatment option for you after the complete analysis of your condition. Either one or a combination of more leukemia treatment options can be used for the treatment purpose. Following are the few available leukemia treatment options:

Chemotherapy: This therapy works by killing the rapidly dividing cells of the body which are cancer cells but it also acts on normal cells of the hair follicles as they also divide rapidly. This therapy is very often used in CLL and CML as a leukemia treatment either alone or in combination with other options.

Radiation therapy: It is used as a pre-transplant leukemia treatment in most of the spreading leukemia cases to prevent it from further spreading and reaching in the central nervous system.

Stem cell transplant: This is an option for patients with less than 55 years of age. In this damaged stem cells are replaced by healthy new stem cells. It reboots the immune system again after blood cell formation begins by the healthy stem cells.

Targeted therapy: This leukemia treatment is effective in treating some types of leukemia in which few medications are administered to target cancer cells and inhibiting their cell cycle and division. A particular hinderance is created in mechanisms supporting cancer cell growth by the medicines. This therapy even has fewer side effects than chemo or radiation therapy and even has a particular target approach which is more effective in most of the cases. TKIs or Tyrosine inhibitors are the used target enzyme drugs which interrupt the cancer cell growth in the targeted therapy.

Watchful waiting: Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is one of the exceptions which needs this leukemia treatment option as early stages do not progress with speed and hence any treatment is not needed during that. This is even not the same as foregoing treatment and hence do not affect the survival of the patient in any positive way. Several symptoms are closely observed like fever, fatigue, sweating, lymph node enlargement, spleen or liver anomalies, abnormal weight loss, abnormal cell count of the blood, and progression of symptoms etc. So proper active surveillance is required until some viable treatment option can be decided after a complete analysis of the disease.

Supportive therapy: This mainly involves managing the expected or unexpected complications which arise during leukemia treatment.

 

Is there any other way by which a healthcare team can plan a leukemia treatment?

The healthcare team considers the following main types of leukemia presence in any patient before starting any treatment therapy:

•   Acute Myelogenous Leukemia

•   Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

•   Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

•   Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

 

Related FAQs:

1) Q: What are the risk factors of leukemia?

A: Leukemia in its early stages might produce flu-like symptoms in a person. This might let the condition of leukemia go undetected. But in case you have any of the following risk factors than probably your flu-like symptoms can be due to leukemia:

•   Chemotherapy and radiation therapy

•   Genetic or blood disorders

•   65 and above age

•   Down syndrome

•   A family history of blood cancer

•   Tobacco usage

•   Exposure to certain industrial solvents or chemicals

 

2) Q: Can LGL type of leukemia be hereditary?

A: No, this type of leukemia is only acquired after birth. Although, LGL involves mutations in the leukemic cells and these are an acquired type of mutations. Further, these cannot even be transferred by genes to the offsprings in any way.

 

3) Q: Is there any particular follow-up care required after leukemia treatment?

A: Every treatment or procedure requires follow-up care. So during leukemia treatment, you might have to go for follow-up visits after regular intervals because it allows your doctor to monitor the health progress during the recovery period.