Treatment of Adult Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia
Different types of treatment are available for patients with adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Some treatments are standard and some are being tested in clinical trials. The treatment of adult ALL usually has two phases:
- Remission induction therapy: This is the first phase of treatment. Its purpose is to kill the leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow. This puts the leukemia into remission.
- Post-remission therapy: This is the second phase of treatment. It begins once the leukemia is in remission. The purpose of post-remission therapy is to kill any remaining leukemia cells that may not be active but could begin to regrow and cause a relapse. This phase is also called remission continuation therapy.
Central nervous system sanctuary therapyTreatment called central nervous system sanctuary therapy is usually given during each phase of therapy. Because chemotherapy that is given by mouth or injected into a vein may not reach leukemia cells in the CNS (brain and spinal cord), the cells are able to find “sanctuary” (hide) in the CNS. Intrathecal chemotherapy and radiation therapy are able to reach leukemia cells in the CNS and are given to kill the leukemia cells and prevent the cancer from recurring (coming back). CNS sanctuary therapy is also called CNS prophylaxis. Following are the types of standard treatment for ALL:
- Radiation Therapy
- Chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
- Targeted therapy
- Biologic therapy