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Treatment for acute leukemia depends on several factors, including the type of the disease (acute lymphocytic leukemia or acute myelogenous leukemia), the stage of the disease, your general health, your age, and your preferences. The treatment options include chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and bone marrow transplant.
With chemotherapy, your doctor may give you drugs in the form of a pill, injects it with a needle, or by an infusion into a vein to kill the cancer cells. Targeted therapy also uses drugs, but the drugs only attack specific abnormalities present in cancer cells that help them grow and progress. If you need to undergo radiation therapy, you may need to lie on a table and a linear accelerator (a machine that directs high-energy beams of radiation) moves around you to deliver radiation from various angles. If your doctor recommends a bone marrow transplant, you will receive new stem cells to replace your unhealthy bone marrow.
For radiation therapy and chemotherapy, the number of cycles required for your specific condition determines your length of stay in Vienna. For chemotherapy, you may need to stay in the hospital for several weeks as the chemotherapy drugs may destroy a lot of normal blood cells in the process of destroying leukemia cells. In general, you should aim to stay in the country for about four to eight weeks.
The recovery period differs from one person to another. With targeted therapy and radiation therapy, you should be able to go back to work and some of your normal routine within 1-3 days after the procedure or when you do not experience any symptoms that interfere with your ability to perform your daily activities. With a bone marrow transplant, you should be able to resume most of your normal activities within three months, but the total recovery period can take as long as a year.
You may need to adjust your lifestyle after treatment and your doctor will give you instructions regarding diet, exercise, and restrictions. Also, you will need regular lifelong follow-up checkups with your doctor to monitor your condition, but you can have checkups with your local doctor.
Acute leukemia treatment is generally effective and safe. Some patients are put into remission after their treatment. There are some side effects and risks to be aware of, such as fatigue, hair loss, nausea, stem cell failure, infertility, new cancers, infection, cataracts, and death.
You should consult with your doctor what your best options are besides the treatments listed above. No alternatives have been proven to cure acute leukemia, but there are some treatments that can help ease some side effects and symptoms, such as acupuncture, meditation, and relaxation exercises.
Acute leukemia is life-threatening, has painful symptoms, and it prevents you from enjoying the things you love. After treatment, you may be ‘cured’ or put into remission, which allows you to return back to your normal life.
Whilst the information presented here has been accurately sourced and verified by a medical professional for its accuracy, it is still advised to consult with your doctor before pursuing a medical treatment at one of the listed medical providers. This content was last updated on 28/11/2020.