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How Your Doctor Determines Your Treatment for Adult Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia

Researchers continue to find new treatments for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). People diagnosed with this cancer now have more hope for survival than ever before.

Your treatment may depend on the following factors:

  • Results of your lab tests

  • Your health status

  • Your age

  • Your personal needs or special considerations

Your treatment may also depend on certain characteristics of the leukemia, including:

  • The subtype of ALL

  • Whether it is considered untreated ALL, ALL in remission, or recurrent ALL

  • Your blood counts

  • Your symptoms

  • Condition of your liver, spleen, and lymph nodes

  • The presence of cytogenetic abnormalities such as the Philadelphia chromosome

The main treatment for ALL is chemotherapy, although radiation therapy or targeted drugs may also be used in certain situations. The three main phases of chemotherapy treatment for ALL include:

  • Remission induction. The goal of this treatment is to kill leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow. This puts the leukemia into remission, which means you don't have signs or symptoms of the cancer.

  • Consolidation (intensification). This is usually a short course of intensive treatment given once you are in remission to try to kill any remaining leukemia cells.

  • Maintenance therapy. This treatment involves less intensive chemotherapy given for a longer period of time (usually about two years) to help prevent the leukemia from returning.

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