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The goal of treatment for acute leukemia is to destroy all evidence of the disease, with blood and bone marrow returning to normal. The goal of treatment for chronic leukemia is to control symptoms and progression of the disease, since it is rarely curable. However, the course of chronic leukemia tends to be very long, and patients may live years with minimal symptoms, even without treatment. Once treatment is needed for chronic leukemia, patients can still have years of good control even though the disease is still present.

Treatment will depend on the type of leukemia you have, the cells’ characteristics, the extent of disease, past treatments, your symptoms, and your overall health. Several therapies may be used in combination. Acute leukemia requires immediate medical care. However if you have chronic leukemia, the doctor may suggest holding off the start of treatment and watching for changes. Waiting for changes to occur does not appear to increase the mortality rate in people who have been diagnosed with a chronic form of leukemia.

Treatment involves the following:

MedicationsChemotherapyRadiationSurgeryOther treatmentsLifestyle changes

Revision Information

  • American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org.

  • Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 21st ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2000.

  • Conn's Current Therapy 2001. 53rd ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.

  • The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society website. Available at: http://www.lls.org.

  • National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov.

  • Textbook of Primary Care Medicine . 3rd ed. Mosby, Inc.; 2001.