Childhood Leukemia Overview

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Treating Leukemia in Children TOPICS

Targeted therapy for childhood leukemia

In recent years, new drugs that are aimed at certain parts of cancer cells have been developed. These are called targeted drugs. They work differently from standard chemotherapy drugs. They sometimes work when chemo drugs don’t, and they often have less severe side effects. Some of these drugs may be useful in certain types of childhood leukemia.

For example, drugs such as imatinib (Gleevec) and dasatinib (Sprycel) can be used to treat children with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), as well as a small portion of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). These drugs are taken as pills. Possible side effects include diarrhea, nausea, muscle pain, feeling tired, and skin rashes. Often these side effects are mild. A common side effect is swelling around the eyes or in the hands or feet. These drugs may also slow a child’s growth, especially if used before puberty.

Last Medical Review: 05/13/2015
Last Revised: 05/13/2015