It's important that your doctor is experienced in treating patients with acute leukemia or works in consultation with an acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) specialist. This type of specialist is usually called a hematologist-oncologist.
Finding the Best Treatment Approach
Most patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) need treatment soon after diagnosis because of the disease's fast progression. The goal of ALL treatment is to cure the disease. Children with ALL are likely to be cured, and the remission rate and length for adults are improving.
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- your white cell counts
- whether ALL cells are present in your central nervous system
- whether ALL cells are present in lymph nodes
- your ALL subtype
As you develop a treatment plan with your doctor, be sure to discuss:
- the results you can expect from treatment
- the possibility of participating in a clinical trial, where you'll have access to advanced medical treatment that may be more beneficial to you than standard treatment
- potential side effects, including late-term and long-term effects
- the risk of infertility (including the effects on a child) and family planning options
Other Treatment Considerations
- If you're age 60 or older, patient performance status, other health issues and ALL risk factors are all considered in developing a treatment plan. The adult form of ALL is more resistant to treatment than the childhood form. Speak to your doctor about your treatment options.
- If you're a young adult being treated for ALL, generally under the age of 40, a number of factors will affect the choice of treatment. Clinical trials are now looking into using a variety of pediatric protocols to treat this age group. Speak to your doctor about your treatment options.
- If your cancer has returned (relapsed) or it's still present after you finish standard therapy (refractory), you may have a different treatment approach than the first time around. See Refractory and Relapsed Leukemia.