Patient Support FAQs

  1. How is leukemia treated?

    Some of the more common ways leukemia is treated are the following; however this is not a complete list.

    What is Chemotherapy?

    Chemotherapy is a way of treating cancer with the use of drugs. Today, there are many different types of medication that can be used to cure or to control the growth, multiplication and spread of cancer cells. Your course of treatment may include a combination of a number of drugs.

    Click on the link below to see a brief video on cell division and how chemotherapy works 

    What is Radiation Therapy?

    Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used alone to treat cancer or with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or surgery.

    there are two main types of radiation therapy, external beam and internal. The radiation may be delivered by a machine outside the body (external beam radiation therapy), or it may come from radioactive material placed in the body near cancer cells (internal radiation therapy). Systemic radiation therapy uses radioactive substances such as radioactive iodine, that travel in the blood to kill cancer cells.

    What is a Stem Cell Transplant?

    A stem cell transplant is the infusion of healthy stem cells into your body, often after chemotherapy and/or radiation therapy for leukemia or other disorders. A stem cell transplant may also be necessary if your bone marrow stops working and doesn't produce enough healthy stem cells (for example, a disorder called Aplastic Anemia). A stem cell transplant can help your body make enough healthy white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets, and reduce your risk of life-threatening infections, anemia and bleeding.

    • Autologous Stem Cell Transplants involve the use of a patient’s own stem cells.
    • Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplants involve the use of donor stem cells.

    Is Surgery Ever Used to Treat Leukemia?

    In rare cases of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) the spleen (which plays a role in the body’s immune system) needs to be removed. This happens when the spleen is found to be destroying red blood cells and platelets. The operation is called a splenectomy.

    Sometimes a swollen lymph node will be removed to confirm the diagnosis of leukemia. This operation is called a lymph node biopsy.

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