Leukaemia Cancer Treatment

Introduction – Leukaemia

Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer. There is an abnormal increase of immature white blood cells.

One of the major forms of treatment of leukaemia is chemotherapy. Chemotherapeutic agents are medications prevent leukaemic cells to grow and spread. These agents are given orally or as injections into the vein. One or more agents may be required to treat a specific type of leukaemia. Chemotherapeutic agents act by killing the cancer cells. However since most of them are very powerful they tend to kill normal rapidly growing cells as well. Treatment with these agents thus may give rise to some side effects like nausea, vomiting, hair loss, fatigue, loss of appetite, increased chances of infection etc. There is severe lowering of the blood cells. Reduction of the counts of red blood cells lead to anemia, reduction in white blood cells lead to increased chances of infections and reduction in platelets lead to increased bleeding tendencies.

Procedure and considerations – Leukaemia

Radiation therapy is an effective mode of treatment of leukaemia. It arrests the disease and prevents its spread. It is also used as a prior therapy for stem cell transplantation. A specialized device is used as the source of radiation using high energy beams. The targeted cancerous cells are damaged subsequently. Side effects are frequent and depend on the targeted tissue of the body. Common side effects include fatigue, skin rashes and burns, nausea, vomiting etc. These subside after a few weeks of discontinuation of therapy.

Most important part of treatment is proper counselling of the patients regarding diagnosis, prognosis and modes of treatment.
Stem cell transplantation is another available option. This complex procedure is done in specialized centres by a team of highly trained professionals. Before the transplantation, diseased bone marrow is destroyed by chemotherapy or radiation. Thereafter blood forming stem cells are infused into the patients. Stem cells from a donor or patient’s own stem cell may be used. Stem cell therapy is frequently encountered with side effects.

 Biological therapy stimulates the immune system of the body to treat leukaemia. Biological therapeutic agents are derived from the human body. The agents used to treat leukaemia are monoclonal antibodies and interferon alfa. These are available as injectable preparations. Mild sides like chill, rigor, flu like symptoms, nausea and generalized weakness are frequently associated with biological therapy. Serious side effects are rare. Side effects usually subside with completion of therapy.

Targeted therapy is another viable option. In this therapy specific cancerous cells are damaged and normal cells are spared. The agents are called cancer growth inhibitors. One such growth inhibitor imatinib is used to treat chronic myeloid leukaemia, a subtype of leukaemia.

Surgery is a rare option for treatment of leukaemia. Sometimes excision of spleen may be necessary as an adjuvant measure in the treatment of chronic leukaemia.

Most important part of treatment is proper counselling of the patients regarding diagnosis, prognosis and modes of treatment. This should be done at all stages of the treatment. Proper follow up of the patients is also important to keep track of return and recurrence of the cancer.

- Link of interest: Twitter Leukaemia – Cancer Treatment.


This article is not medical advice nor a substitute to professional health advice. Always consult a doctor.


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