Leukemia treatment

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on September 12, 2022.

Standard-of-care and evidence-informed treatments and technology to treat leukemia radiation therapy, surgery and chemotherapy techniques, delivered with a high quality of care. Our multidisciplinary team of leukemia experts will answer your questions and recommend treatment options based on your unique diagnosis and needs.

Common leukemia treatments

Stem cell transplantation: Also called hematopoietic progenitor cell transplantation or bone marrow transplant, this procedure infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into the body. Stem cells are collected from the bone marrow, circulating (peripheral) blood and/or umbilical cord blood before chemotherapy or radiation therapy treatments. Stem cells may come from the patient (autologous stem cell transplant) or from a matched donor (allogeneic stem cell transplant).

Learn more about stem cell transplantation for leukemia 

Radiation therapy: This treatment for leukemia may be used to destroy leukemia cells, to relieve discomfort caused by an enlarged liver or spleen, or swollen lymph nodes, or to help treat pain from bone damage caused by leukemia cells growing in the bone marrow. Radiation therapy may also be given in low doses just before a stem cell transplant.

Learn more about radiation therapy for leukemia

Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is typically the primary treatment option for many forms of leukemia, often consisting of giving several drugs together in a set regimen. Because each medication destroys tumor cells in different ways, a combination of drugs may make the cells more vulnerable to treatment.

Learn more about chemotherapy for leukemia 

Targeted therapy: Targeted therapy drugs may be used in combination with other leukemia treatments, such as chemotherapy. Unlike standard chemotherapy, which affects all cells in the body, targeted therapy directly attacks leukemia cells, helping to reduce damage to healthy cells and reduce side effects.

Leukemia treatment options and how they treat cancer.
Download leukemia infographic »

Leukemia clinical trials

As part of our commitment to providing new and innovative treatments, our doctors may recommend that you enroll in a clinical trial that may offer you access to leukemia treatment options that would otherwise be unavailable to you. Each leukemia patient is considered for a clinical trial on an individual basis and must meet strict and specific criteria.

With a new generation of leukemia drugs and treatments in development, clinical trials are a critical testing ground for determining their effectiveness and safety. Talk to your doctor about whether a clinical trial is an option for you and ask about the risks and requirements involved.

Search clinical trials for leukemia

Next topic: How is leukemia treated with stem cell transplantation?

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