Understanding the Goals of Treatment for Leukemia

Leukemia can be treated. Your treatment depends on all these things:

  • The type of leukemia you have

  • The subtype and extent of your leukemia

  • Your age and general health

Treatment can often control the leukemia and, depending on the type of leukemia, in some cases may cure it. It can also improve your quality of life by controlling symptoms of the disease.

Once you know the type of your leukemia and have had the needed tests done, it is time to decide on a treatment plan. This section will help you understand your treatment options and what's best for you. Talking about your treatment choices will be one of the most important meetings you have with your doctor.

Deciding on the best plan may take some time. Talk with your doctor about how much time you can take to explore your options. If you have chronic leukemia, you will have more time to decide. You may want to get another opinion before deciding on your treatment plan. And you may want to involve your family and friends in this process.

The goal of leukemia treatment is to do one or more of these things:

  • Kill the leukemia cells as quickly as possible.

  • Stop the growth of new leukemia cells.

  • Replace cells lost by certain types of cancer treatment.

  • Treat side effects of the cancer or of certain cancer treatments, such as infection.

  • Maintain a sense of control over your treatment choices and life.

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