Learn Leukemia treatment options including Chemotherapy, Radiation therapy, Biological and Targeted therapy for Acute Myelocytic Leukemia (AML), Chronic Myelocytic Leukemia (CML), Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL), Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).
Leukemia is a White Blood Cells Cancer, while cancer itself is an abnormal growth of cells. Therefore, leukemia is an abnormal growth of blood cells.
Human body creates blood cells in bone marrow and lymphoid tissue in lymphoid organs such as spleen, thymus. In leukemia, human bone marrow and lymphoid tissue produce abnormal white blood cells.
Red blood cells, platelets and some types of white blood cells (basophils, neutrophils, eosinophils, monocytes (that mature further into macrophages)) are matured from myeloid stem cells in bone marrow. The rest of the types of white blood cells (Natural Killer Cells (NK cells), T lymphocytes (T cells), B lymphocytes (B cells that mature further into plasma cells) are matured from lymphoid stem cells.
To understand leukemia better, let’s first talk about types of blood cells. In general, there are three types of blood cells: red blood cells (RBC), white blood cells (WBC), and platelets. Each cell has different functions. Red blood cells are responsible for distributing oxygen to all parts of the body. Platelets, which are smaller than red blood cells, work when there is a bleeding on any parts of the body. Platelets have important role to stop the bleeding by forming blood clots.
Then there are several types of White Blood Cells (WBC), which are usually bigger and fewer than red blood cells. White blood cells, in general, are responsible for defending the body from infections. White blood cells catch and terminate bacteria, micro organisms, viruses and other pathogens that can cause infections. Thus, white blood cells help the body stay healthy.
Leukemia or white Blood Cells Cancer is differentiated into several types, depending on the types of white blood cells that grow abnormally. Leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options depend on the types of the leukemia. Leukemia can be myelocytic or lymphocytic and acute or chronic, so there are four types of leukemia:
Acute Myelocytic Leukemia (AML)
AML is an abnormal growth of myeloid cells. Its progression is fast. It can occur to both children and adults.
Chronic Myelocytic Leukemia (CML)
CML is an abnormal growth of myeloid cells. Its progression is slow at first, but it can grow fast later on and become AML. It occurs mostly to adults.
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
ALL is an abnormal growth of lymphoid cells. Its progression is fast. It occurs mostly to children, but it can also occur to adults.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)
CLL is an abnormal growth of lymphoid cells. Its progression is slow. It usually occurs on adults age 55 or more.
Leukemia: Blood Cells Cancer Treatment Options
Several leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options available, depending on many factors such as types and stages of the leukemia, the ages and physical condition of the leukemia patient.
Deciding the best leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options is based on whether the leukemia is acute or chronic and lymphoid or myeloid. Acute leukemia should be treated as soon as possible, while treatment of chronic leukemia can still be delayed. Watchful waiting (with regular checkup every 3 months) can be done for chronic leukemia, particularly CLL, with no apparent symptoms yet, though the patient can choose to skip watchful waiting and get treatment immediately.
leukemia treatment options are aimed at killing leukemia cells or abnormal blood cells and to encourage the body to produce normal types of blood cells. Common leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, cell stem transplant, targeted therapy, and biological therapy.
Leukemia Chemotherapy Treatment
Chemotherapy is used to treat most kinds of cancer, including leukemia. The purpose of chemotherapy is to kill the leukemia cells by using chemicals or drugs. However, chemotherapy usually kills both the leukemia cells and the normal cells, resulting on several unpleasant side effects. Chemotherapy can kill the normal blood cells, causing the body to be vulnerable to infectious diseases. Chemotherapy can also affect digestive cells that often lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. In addition, patients who are going through chemotherapy usually loss their hair. The hair will grow back after chemotherapy has ended. Because of those side effects that can be dangerous to the patients health, the doctors usually monitor and treat those side effects carefully during chemotherapy.
Leukemia Radiation Therapy Treatment
Radiation therapy is one of other leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options. Radiation therapy is similar to chemotherapy in terms of the notion and the side effects, but radiation therapy uses radiation rays to terminate leukemia cells. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy are usually done before stem cell transplant. The idea of the combination of treatments is: radiation therapy and chemotherapy will kill all of the leukemia cells and a lot of normal blood cells, and the stem cell transplant afterwards will produce new, healthy, and normal blood cells in the body. Therefore, the body will be free from leukemia cells and will have new, normal blood cells.
Leukemia Targeted Therapy Treatment
Other leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options are targeted therapy and biological therapy. Targeted therapy uses certain drugs to inhibit factors (such as proteins) that create the leukemia cells. Targeted therapy is usually used to treat CML (and ALL in certain cases). There are side effects of targeted therapy, that will be monitored and treated by the doctors, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, swelling and weight gain.
Leukemia Biological Therapy Treatment
Biological therapy is also called immunotherapy because it employs immune system to terminate leukemia cells. Certain antibodies, a component of immune system, are created specifically to kill leukemia cells. The antibodies created might be some kinds of interferon, interleukin, or cytokine. Biological therapy may also cause several side affects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue; that will be monitored and treated by the doctors.
These different leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options can be used separately or together by the oncologists, depending on the types and severity of the leukemia. It is recommended that the patients discuss with the doctors who specialize in treating leukemia before choosing any of the leukemia blood cells cancer treatment options.