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Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)
Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)

Proper management of acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) focuses on control of bone marrow and systemic (whole-body) disease as well as prevention of cancer at other sites, particularly the central nervous system (CNS). Please review our Leukemia Symptoms and Types of Leukemia section for less technical leukemia information. In general, ALL treatment is divided into several phases:

  • - Induction chemotherapy
  • - Consolidation therapy
  • - CNS prophylaxis
  • - Maintenance treatments
  • - Follow-up therapy

Induction chemotherapy to bring about remission - that is, leukemic cells are no longer found in bone marrow samples. For adult ALL, standard induction plans include prednisone, vincristine, and an anthracycline drug; other drug plans may include L-asparaginase or cyclophosphamide. For children with low-risk ALL, standard therapy usually consists of three drugs (prednisone, L-asparaginase, and vincristine) for the first month of treatment. High-risk children may receive these drugs plus an anthracycline such as daunorubicin.

Consolidation therapy (1-3 months in adults; 4-8 months in children) to eliminate any leukemia cells that are still "hiding" within the body. A combination of chemotherapeutic drugs is used to keep the remaining leukemia cells from developing resistance. Patients with low to average-risk ALL receive therapy with antimetabolite drugs such as methotrexate and 6-mercaptopurine (6-MP). High-risk patients receive higher drug doses plus treatment with extra chemotherapeutic agents.

CNS prophylaxis (preventive therapy) to stop the cancer from spreading to the brain and nervous system. Standard prophylaxis may consist of (1) cranial (head) irradiation plus spinal tap or intrathecal (IT; into the space around the spinal cord and brain) delivery of the drug methotrexate; (2) high-dose systemic and IT methotrexate, without cranial irradiation; or (3) IT chemotherapy. Only children with T-cell leukemia, a high white blood cell count, or leukemia cells in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) need to receive cranial irradiation as well as IT therapy.

Maintenance treatments with chemotherapeutic drugs (e.g., prednisone + vincristine + cyclophosphamide + doxorubicin; methotrexate + 6-MP) to prevent disease recurrence once remission has been achieved. Maintenance therapy usually involves drug doses that are lower than those administered during the induction phase. In children, an intensive 6-month treatment program is needed after induction, followed by 2 years of maintenance chemotherapy.

Follow-up therapy for ALL patients usually consists of:

  • supportive care, such as intravenous nutrition and treatment with oral antibiotics (e.g., ofloxacin, rifampin), especially in patients with prolonged granulocytopenia; that is, too few mature granulocytes (neutrophils), the bacteria-destroying white blood cells that contain small particles, or granules (< 100 granulocytes per cubic millimeter for 2 weeks)
  • transfusions with red blood cells and platelets

A laboratory test known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is advisable for ALL patients, since it may help to identify specific genetic abnormalities. Such abnormalities have a large impact upon prognosis and, consequently, treatment plans. PCR testing is especially important for patients whose disease is B-cell in type. B-cell ALL usually is not cured by standard ALL therapy. Instead, higher response rates are achieved with the aggressive, cyclophosphamide-based regimens that are used for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Among ALL patients, 3-5% children and 25-50% of adults are positive for the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph1)[citation needed]. Because these patients have a worse prognosis than other individuals with ALL, many oncologists recommend allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (alloBMT), since remission may be brief following conventional ALL chemotherapy.

People who receive bone marrow transplantation will require protective isolation in the hospital, including filtered air, sterile food, and sterilization of the microorganisms in the gut, until their total white blood cell (WBC) count is above 500.

Recurrent ALL patients usually do not benefit from additional chemotherapy alone. If possible, they should receive re-induction chemotherapy, followed by allogeneic bone marrow transplant (alloBMT).

Alternatively, patients with recurrent ALL may benefit from participation in new clinical trials of alloBMT, immune system agents, and chemotherapeutic agents, or low-dose radiotherapy, if the cancer recurs throughout the body or CNS.

Benzene Lawsuits – Talk to a Benzene Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) then you need to consult with an attorney to discuss a potential benzene exposure lawsuit. Talk to a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, with 30+ years of experience. Call 1-800-883-9858 or click the link below.

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    NOTE: If you have been exposed to any refined petroleum products or chemicals containing benzene, toluene, xylene, naphtha or any aromatic hydrocarbon and have been diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia, AML Leukemia, Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS), Aplastic Anemia (AA), Multiple Myeloma, or Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL), then you may have a right to file a benzene exposure lawsuit. Call for a Free Confidential Consulation. Do Not Delay. Some states have filing dealings or statute of limititations that expire as short as one year from date of diagnosis and/or other strict conditions. Talk to a benzene exposure lawyer and get the help you and your family deserve. 

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