What Are the Different Types of Myeloid Leukemia Treatment?

C.B. Fox
C.B. Fox

Myeloid leukemia treatment is conducted in a fashion similar to other types of cancer treatments. There are a number of options available to the patient, and standard medical practice dictates treatment by transplant, radiation, and chemotherapy. Experimental treatments may be given to qualified patients, and alternative treatments are also available. Doctors consult with patients and experts in order to develop a treatment plan for each individual patient, using any combination of these techniques.

A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.

Chemotherapy is one of the most commonly administered myeloid leukemia treatments. Various medications, including cytarabine and an anthracycline, are infused into the patient's blood to kill the cancerous cells. In most cases, a couple of doses of chemotherapy can kill off most, though not all, of the cancerous white blood cells. Further treatment, either with more chemotherapy or with a different treatment, is usually needed to prevent the cancer from returning.

Consulting with a patient is one step in finding the best treatment options for that patient.
Consulting with a patient is one step in finding the best treatment options for that patient.

A bone marrow transplant is often used as a secondary treatment to kill off the cancerous cells that did not die during chemotherapy. Stem cells that create new white blood cells can be transplanted either from the patient's own healthy tissue or from a donor. If the patient is to act as his own donor, he will donate healthy cells before chemotherapy is started. They are stored and used later.

Targeted therapy is also an option for myeloid leukemia treatment. There are drugs that target cancerous cells specifically and kill them without harming healthy cells. Chronic cases of myeloid leukemia are often treated with a group of treatments that include targeted therapy.

In many cases, a patient's own immune systems can kill cancerous cells. Various immune boosters can be administered that can help make the patient's own system more effective at fighting the cancer. This type of myeloid leukemia treatment is known as biologic therapy or immunotherapy.

In addition to these commonly used treatments, a number of options for myeloid leukemia treatment are less frequently used. In some patients, the spleen is removed as a part of the myeloid leukemia treatment. Clinical trials are used to test new medications, and patients can sign up to be a part of these studies. The effectiveness of these medications is unknown, and they are often used as supplemental treatments. Herbal remedies, faith healing, and homeopathic cures can also be used to supplement traditional treatment.

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    • A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.
      A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.
    • Consulting with a patient is one step in finding the best treatment options for that patient.
      Consulting with a patient is one step in finding the best treatment options for that patient.