It's important that your doctor is experienced in treating patients with acute leukemia or has access to an acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) specialist.
Types of ALL Treatment
Doctors use several types of approaches and treatment combinations for ALL:
- Stem cell transplantation
- Ph-positive ALL therapy
- Clinical trials. Clinical trials can involve therapy with new drugs and new drug combinations or new approaches to stem cell transplantation.
Finding the Best Treatment Approach
Patients who have ALL need treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis. If time allows, however, a patient may want to seek a second opinion. A second opinion may help a patient to feel more confident about the chosen treatment plan. The approach for treating each patient is based on an individual’s subtype, risk factors and treatment goals.
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors. Factors that may affect treatment include
- Your ALL subtype
- The stage and category of the disease
- Disease that has not responded to treatment, called refractory disease
- Disease that has come back after treatment, called relapsed disease
- Patient age
- Other medical problems, such as diabetes, or heart or kidney disease.
Some things that may affect the outcome of your ALL treatment are
- The subtype of your ALL
- The results of your lab tests
- Your age and general health
- Your medical history, including whether you were treated before with chemotherapy
- Whether you have
- A serious infection at the time of diagnosis
- ALL in your central nervous system
- ALL that has not responded to treatment or has relapsed.
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 long-term and late effects
You may find it helpful to bring a loved one with you to your doctor's visits for support and to take notes and ask follow-up questions. It's a good idea to prepare questions you'd like to ask when you visit your doctor. You can also record your conversations with your doctor and listen more closely when you get home.
To download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers, click here.
Adults of childbearing age and parents of children diagnosed with ALL should ask the doctor for information about addressing the risk of infertility. See the free LLS publication Fertility Facts for more details.