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Treating Leukemia: What You Should Know

A blood-forming tissue cancer that impairs the body’s capability to combat infection. Bone marrow is one of the blood-forming tissues that can develop leukemia. Numerous varieties include chronic lymphocytic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Leukemia begins when a single bone marrow cell’s DNA alters (mutates), making it impossible for the cell to mature and function normally. Frequently, leukemia cells exhibit aberrant white blood cell behavior. Your type of leukemia, age, general health, and whether the disease has spread to other organs or tissues affect your treatment. Many patients with leukemias that grow slowly don’t exhibit any symptoms. Fatigue, weight loss, recurrent infections, and easy bruising or bleeding are all possible symptoms of leukemias that overgrow. Treatment results vary greatly, and similarly, the bone marrow transplant costs in India also vary. Treatment for leukemias with a slow growth rate may involve monitoring. Chemotherapy for malignant leukemias occasionally combines radiation therapy and stem cell transplant.

How is Leukemia Treated?

Your type of leukemia, age, general health, and whether the disease has spread to other organs or tissues affect your treatment. Combinations of the following are frequent treatments:

1. Chemotherapy

The most popular method of treating leukemia is chemotherapy. It entails using chemicals to eradicate leukemia cells or prevent their regrowth. You might be given the drugs (medicine) intravenously, as a shot beneath your skin, or as a pill during treatment. In addition, you’ll often receive a cocktail of chemotherapy medications.

2. Immunotherapy (Biologic Therapy)

This treatment uses certain medications to strengthen your immune system to combat leukemia. Your immune system can better recognize cancer cells and make more immune cells to combat them with immunotherapy.

3. Targeted Therapy

In this procedure, medications target specific leukemia cell components (such as a protein or gene), causing them to outnumber healthy blood cells. Targeted treatments may stop leukemia cells from proliferating, cut off their blood supply, or directly destroy the cells. As a result, targeted therapy has a lower risk of damaging healthy cells. Drugs used in targeted therapy include tyrosine kinase inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies.

4. Radiation Therapy

Intense energy beams or X-rays are used in this procedure to either destroy leukemia cells or limit their growth. A machine uses radiation to either cover your entire body with radiation during therapy or precisely target the locations where the cancer cells are in your body. Before a hematopoietic cell transplant, your body may be exposed to radiation.

5. Hematopoietic Cell Transplant (stem cell or bone marrow transplant)

This therapy uses new, healthy hematopoietic cells to replace the malignant blood-forming cells killed by chemotherapy or radiation therapy. Before chemo and radiation, your healthcare professional may take these healthy cells from your blood or bone marrow, or they may come from a donor. Your body requires red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets, created when healthy new cells grow and make new bone marrow and blood cells.

6. Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell Therapy

The T-cells (also known as T lymphocytes) your body produces to fight infections are taken out of your body, modified to target leukemia cells, and reintroduced. Clinical trials are another option for testing new cancer therapies. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of participating in a clinical study with your healthcare physician.

What are the Phases of Leukemia Treatment?

Your leukemia treatment may be administered gradually or as part of an ongoing regimen, depending on your treatment strategy. Phased treatment typically contains three components. Each stage has a distinct objective.

1. Induction Therapy

To establish remission, it is essential to eradicate all leukemia cells from your blood and bone marrow. When leukemia is in remission, blood cell counts return to normal, no leukemia cells are discovered in your blood, and all illness signs and symptoms vanish. Typically, induction therapy lasts four to six weeks.

2. Consolidation (also called intensification)

The intent is to kill any remaining undetected leukemia cells, so cancer doesn’t return. Consolidation therapy is often administered in cycles over a four- to six-month period.

3. Maintenance Therapy

The goal is to kill leukemia cells that may have survived the first two treatment phases and prevent cancer from returning (relapse). Treatment lasts about two years.

Conclusion

Leukemia cannot be cured; however, this does not exclude some patients from going into long-term remission. Leukemia can be cured if the cancer is gone, it won’t return, no further therapy is required, and bone marrow transplant costs in India are high. However, it might be challenging to determine leukemia. On the other side, long-term remission indicates that cancer has wholly disappeared, treatment or not. The length of remission might range from a few weeks to many years. Leukemia might never come back. If it does, your doctor can suggest trying new therapies to put the condition into remission. Am I cured of my leukemia? Your medical team best answers it. Your team will collaborate closely with you to create a unique treatment plan while closely monitoring your health.

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