Leukemia--Acute Lymphocytic Overview

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Treating Leukemia - Acute Lymphocytic (ALL) in Adults TOPICS

How is acute lymphocytic leukemia treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

Adult acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is not one disease. It is really a group of diseases, and people with different subtypes vary in how they respond to treatment. Treatment choices are based on the subtype as well as on the prognostic features in the section "How is acute lymphocytic leukemia classified."

The treatments used most often for ALL are:

Some patients may also have surgery and radiation. The treatment of ALL often lasts for about 2 years. It can be intense, especially in the first few months of treatment, so it is important that you are treated in a center that has experience with this disease.

You might have different types of doctors involved in your care as well. The doctor in charge of your team will most likely be a hematologist, a doctor who treats blood diseases, including leukemia.

It is important to discuss your treatment options, including their goals and possible side effects, with your doctors to help decide on one that best fits your needs. Treatment for ALL usually needs to start very soon after it is found, but if time permits, it is often a good idea to get a second opinion. This can give you more information and help you feel good about your chosen treatment plan.

The next few sections have general comments about types of treatments used for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). After this you will find a review of the typical treatment plan for ALL in adults.


Last Medical Review: 06/25/2013
Last Revised: 02/07/2014