- How is acute lymphocytic leukemia treated?
- Chemotherapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Targeted therapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Surgery for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Radiation therapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- High-dose chemotherapy and stem cell transplant for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Clinical trials for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Complementary and alternative therapies for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Typical treatment of acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Response rates to treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia
- What if the leukemia doesn`t respond or comes back after treatment?
- More acute lymphocytic leukemia treatment information
Targeted therapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia
In recent years, new drugs that target specific parts of cancer cells have been developed. These drugs work differently than standard chemotherapy drugs. They often have different (and less severe) side effects. These drugs are often referred to as targeted therapy. Some of these drugs can be useful in certain cases of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL).
About 1 out of 4 adult patients with ALL have leukemia cells with the Philadelphia chromosome. This is an abnormal chromosome formed by the swapping of material between chromosomes 9 and 22. The Philadelphia chromosome is also found in the cells of a different leukemia – chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Cells with this chromosome make an abnormal protein that helps the cells grow. Drugs have been developed that attack this protein. These include imatinib (Gleevec®), dasatinib (Sprycel®), nilotinib (Tasigna®), bosutinib (Bosulif®), and ponatinib (Iclusig™). Although these drugs were mainly aimed at treating CML, some of them have been found to be helpful in treating patients with ALL that has the Philadelphia chromosome.
Early studies have found that adding one of these drugs to chemotherapy may help more patients go into remission after treatment and may help keep the leukemia from coming back. Larger studies are in progress to try to confirm this.
These drugs are taken daily as pills. Common side effects include diarrhea, nausea, muscle pain, fatigue, and skin rashes. These are generally mild. A common side effect is swelling around the eyes or in the hands or feet. Other possible side effects include lower red blood cell and platelet counts at the start of treatment. All of these side effects get worse at higher than usual doses of the drug. Other more serious side effects can occur, as well, which differ depending on which drug is used.
Last Medical Review: 01/23/2012
Last Revised: 01/18/2013
- What Is Leukemia - Acute Lymphocytic (ALL) in Adults?
- Causes, Risk Factors, and Prevention
- Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging
- Treating Leukemia - Acute Lymphocytic (ALL) in Adults
- Talking With Your Doctor
- After Treatment
- What`s New in Leukemia - Acute Lymphocytic (ALL) in Adults Research?
- Other Resources and References