What treatments are used for acute leukemia?

What is the usual course for acute leukemia? 

When acute leukemia is diagnosed, abnormal white blood cells usually make up 50 percent or more of the white cells in the bone marrow. Often there are signs of leukemic cells in the spleen, lymph nodes, liver, and other tissues. Blood samples show abnormally low levels of red cells, platelets, and mature white cells. Left untreated, acute leukemia leaves the body open to infection and bleeding and is rapidly fatal.

What treatments are used for acute leukemia? 

Treatment with a combination of chemotherapy drugs begins with induction therapy, which usually lasts 4 to 6 weeks. This is the most intensive stage of treatment, since its purpose is to destroy as many abnormal white blood cells as possible. Induction therapy is followed by the second phase of treatment called consolidation therapy and the third called maintenance therapy.

Treatment of Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Are the same drugs used for AML and for ANLL? 

No. Treatment for AML differs from that for ANLL in both the combinations and the dosages of drugs used.

Is immunotherapy used for acute leukemias? 

Not usually. Research has shown immunotherapy to be of little value against large numbers of leukemia cells. Its use has therefore been limited to patients in remission with the goal of prolonging the disease free period. Intensive research continues on ways to stimulate the body's natural immune defenses against disease. So far, however, results of studies using immunotherapy have proved disappointing.


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