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General Practice 2023

Is leukemia curable?

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Is leukemia curable?
Is leukemia curable?
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Leukemia treatment is based on the type of cancer a person has, age, general he alth, and chance of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body. In most cases, the cure of leukemia is achieved through bone marrow transplantation, however, other treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy can also be performed.

The chances of curing leukemia vary with the type of leukemia, its severity, the amount and type of cells affected, the patient's age and immune system, with acute leukemia, which develops rapidly, has a greater chance of cure than chronic leukemia, which, as it develops more slowly, is identified later and, therefore, has a lower chance of cure.

Leukemia treatment varies depending on the type of leukemia the patient has and its severity, however, treatment usually involves:

1. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is one of the main treatments indicated in case of leukemia and aims to promote the elimination of cancer cells, which helps in the fight against cancer. This treatment consists of the administration of medication in the form of pills or injections applied directly into the vein, spine or head that are usually taken in the hospital during an inpatient phase.

The oncologist may prescribe the use of only one or several drugs at the same time, depending on the type of leukemia that the person has. See more details on how chemotherapy is performed.

2. Radiotherapy

Like chemotherapy, radiotherapy aims to eliminate cancer cells, being carried out through the application of radio waves, emitted by a specific device inside a cancer hospital, in a region that has a cluster of cancer cells.Radiation therapy is particularly indicated when there is a risk of the cancer spreading to other areas of the body, and may be given in combination with chemotherapy. Learn more about radiotherapy.

3. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of treatment that makes monoclonal antibodies bind to cancer cells so that they can be fought by the body's natural defense system, and is usually a form of complementary treatment to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, mainly in more advanced cases of the disease. Understand how immunotherapy works.

4. Target Therapy

Targeted therapy is a type of treatment that aims to use drugs to directly attack malignant cells, causing little or no damage to normal cells, because they act on the mechanism that is related to the type of leukemia developed.

In the case of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, for example, the development of this type of cancer is related to the increased activity of the enzyme tyrosine kinase, which causes cells to proliferate in an uncontrolled way.Thus, the use of a tyrosine kinase inhibitor drug may be indicated in the treatment of CML.

5. Bone marrow transplant

Bone marrow transplantation is one of the forms of treatment for leukemia and consists of injecting bone marrow cells from a he althy person into the bloodstream of the patient so that they produce he althy defense cells that can fight cancer. See how bone marrow transplantation is performed.

How to achieve healing

To increase the chance of curing leukemia, it is important that the disease is identified in the early stages and that treatment is carried out as prescribed by the doctor. The chances of cure according to each type of leukemia and treatment performed are indicated in the following table:

Type of Leukemia Treatment Chances of healing
Acute Myeloid Leukemia Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, blood transplants, antibiotics and bone marrow transplantation Increased chance of healing
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, corticosteroid injections and bone marrow transplantation Increased chances of cure, especially in children
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Specific drugs for life and, in severe cases, chemotherapy and bone marrow transplantation Lower chance of healing
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia It is usually only done when the patient has symptoms and includes chemotherapy and radiotherapy Lower chances of cure, especially in the elderly

Leukemia treatment time also varies according to the type of leukemia, its severity, the patient's organism and age, however, it usually varies between 2 to 3 years, and in chronic myeloid leukemia it can last a lifetime.

When the treatment is effective and the patient is cured, he should only undergo exams every 6 months to confirm that the disease does not appear again, being free of any treatment.

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