Acute leukemia is a type of cancer affecting the blood. Acute leukemia treatment often depends on the stage of the disease as well as the overall health of the patient. Typical acute leukemia treatment options include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or targeted immune therapy. An oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, can help the patient determine the best form of acute leukemia treatment on an individual basis.
Radiation therapy is a common acute leukemia treatment option. The same type of radiation used for x-rays is used in this type of therapy, although much higher doses are needed in order to destroy cancer cells. Unfortunately, healthy cells may also be destroyed with this type of treatment, and significant side effects are possible. Some of these side effects may include severe fatigue, nausea, and hair loss.
Chemotherapy is another option in acute leukemia treatment. This method of treatment uses a chemical or a combination of chemicals to destroy cancer cells and may be used alone or in conjunction with radiation therapy. Chemotherapy may be administered in a variety of ways, including through oral medications, injections, or a catheter. Side effects of chemotherapy are very similar to those of radiation therapy, and additional medications may be prescribed to lessen some of these side effects.
Acute leukemia treatment may include a procedure known as a stem cell transplant. These stem cells normally come from the bone marrow of a donor. The goal of this treatment is to increase the number of healthy cells in the body so that the patient's own immune system can begin to fight the disease. This form of treatment may sometimes be used along with chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Targeted immune therapy is another possible option for acute leukemia treatment. This method of treatment is designed to stimulate the patient's immune system so that the patient's body can fight the disease. This is still a relatively new form of treatment, so other treatment methods are often used at the same time.
Without any acute leukemia treatment, the disease is usually fatal within a matter of weeks or months. For this reason, it is very important for the patient to work closely with a doctor to determine the best course of treatment. Any questions or concerns about acute leukemia treatment or the possible side effects should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.