It's important that your doctor is experienced in treating patients with chronic leukemia or works in consultation with a chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) specialist. This type of specialist is called a hematologist oncologist.
Types of CLL Treatment
Current therapies do not offer patients a cure for CLL, but there are treatments that help manage the disease. Doctors use several types of approaches and treatment for adults with CLL, some at different stages:
- Watch and wait
- Chemotherapy and drug therapy, including chemotherapy and monoclonal antibody therapy
- Radiation therapy
- Supportive care
- Clinical trials can involve therapy with new drugs and new drug combinations or new approaches to stem cell transplantation.
Finding the Best Treatment Approach
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- Your CLL stage
- Your physical exam and lab test results
- Your overall health
The goals of CLL treatment are to:
- Slow the growth of CLL cells
- Provide long periods of remission (when there are no signs of CLL or you feel well enough to carry on your daily activities)
- Help you feel better if you have infections, fatigue or other symptoms
As you develop a treatment plan with your doctor, be sure to discuss:
- The results you can expect from treatment
- Potential side effects, including late-term effects and long-term effects
- 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
Click here to download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers.
Other Treatment Considerations
If you're age 60 or older, your treatment may vary from standard approaches. For instance, your body may not be able to tolerate toxic chemotherapy drugs or you may have other ailments that are more common as we age. These factors, among others, may make choosing a treatment more complicated.