Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment
Treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia usually includes chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Chemotherapy uses medications that either kill cancer cells directly, or interfere with their metabolism. Radiation therapy uses x-rays to directly kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy delivers a focused beam of radiation to the cancer so that any damage to surrounding tissue is minimized.
First, chemotherapy is used to destroy the leukemia cells in the bone marrow, where the cancer originates. Second, chemotherapy or radiation therapy may be used to treat leukemia cells that are located around the brain and spinal cord. Finally, chemotherapy is used to prevent the cells from growing again. The three phases of treatment may require 2 to 4 years. Because pain and nausea are common symptoms, pain medications and antinausea medications are used to provide relief.
Treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia may include:
- Narcotic pain medication
- Medications for nausea and vomiting:
- Aprepitant (Emend)
- Dolasetron (Anzemet)
- Granisetron (Kytril)
- Metoclopramide (Reglan)
- Ondansetron (Zofran)
- Palonosetron (Aloxi)
- Prochlorperazine (Compazine, Compro)
- Chemotherapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar PFS)
- Asparaginase (Elspar, Kidrolase)
- Daunorubicin (Cerubidine)
- Methotrexate (Folex PFS, MTX)
- Mercaptopurine (Purinethol, 6-MP)
- Cytarabine (Cytosar-U)
- Etoposide (Toposar, VePesid)
- Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
- Nelarabine (Arranon)
- Clofarabine (Clolar)
- Prophylactic antibiotics:
- May be given to prevent bacterial infections
- Antifungal medications:
- Prevents fungal infections in those with mucositis
- Nystatin (Nilstat)
- Clotrimazole troches (Mycelex)
- Itraconazole (Sporanox)
- Radiation therapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia:
- Usually administered to the head and-or spine
- Psychosocial support:
- Social worker
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Questions For Doctor
The following are some important questions to ask before and after the treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia.
Questions to ask before treatment:
- What are my treatment options?
- Is surgery an option for me?
- What are the risks associated with treatment?
- Do I need to stay in the hospital?
- How long will I be in the hospital?
- What are the complications I should watch for?
- How long will I be on medication?
- What are the potential side effects of my medication?
- Does my medication interact with nonprescription medicines or supplements?
- Should I take my medication with food?
Questions to ask after treatment:
- Do I need to change my diet?
- When can I resume my normal activities?
- When can I return to work?
- What else can I do to reduce my risk for having this problem again?
- Are my children at risk for this condition?
- How often will I need to see my doctor for checkups?
- What local support and other resources are available?
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Specialist
Continue to Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Home Care
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- Fulcher JW, Allred TJ, et al. Granular acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adults: report of a case and review of the literature. South Med J. 2006 Aug;99(8):894-7. 
- Haferlach T, Kern W, Schnittger S, Schoch C. Modern diagnostics in acute leukemias. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2005 Nov;56(2):223-34. 
- Pui CH, Pei D, Sandlund JT, et al. Risk of adverse events after completion of therapy for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. J Clin Oncol. 2005 Nov 1;23(31):7936-41.