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 with ALL need treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis because of the disease's fast progression. The approach for treating each patient is based on an individual’s subtype, risk factors and treatment goals. Generally treatment can last between one and a half to three years.
The treatment your doctor recommends is based on several factors, including:
- Your ALL subtype
- 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
- The risk of infertility (including the effects on a child) and family planning options
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.
Click here to download lists of suggested questions to ask your healthcare providers.
Other Treatment Considerations
- Age 60 or older, patient performance status, other health issues and ALL risk features 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 ALL.