CancerThe Development of Treatments for Leukemia

Early development of leukemia treatments

In the late 19th century, the X-ray was developed and used to help treat Leukemia. Scientists found radiation therapy proved to be useful in helping to cure chronic diseases such as leukemia however this was not an effective treatment as the disease would always return. Another early treatment of leukemia was developed due to World War One as researchers found the chemical weapon mustard gas reduced the production of blood cells, enabling scientists to treat leukemia a disease that as we know produces too many cancerous white blood cells.

Another drug, aminopterin was used in the 1940s to treat childhood leukemia, the use of these drugs was not very successful at the time but did pave the way for new and more efficient leukemia treatments. By the middle of the 20th century, researchers found that bone marrow transplants were effective at treating leukemia; they found that the donor had to have a close match in bone marrow type to avoid infection and complications. These were used as standard treatment for leukemia which is not the case today but has proven to be an effective treatment and is used as an alternative option for those who do not respond to other types of treatment. The leukemia new treatment is listed below in detail.

Chemotherapy for leukemia

Chemotherapy is the most common treatment patients undergo for leukemia and has proved to be the most effective of the treatments. It uses drugs to treat cancer as they travel through the bloodstream and prevent cancer from spreading throughout the whole body.

Chemotherapy for acute lymphocytic leukemia involves an induction period that is intense and when the patient receives the drugs. The consolidation period is when drugs are given if the patient recovers well from the intensive stage. The patient then goes through the maintenance stage over a two-year period in order to reduce the likelihood the disease will return.

Radiation therapy for leukemia

This treatment uses radiation to terminate cancerous cells; it targets a specific part of the body and prevents cancer from spreading. The patient will get CT or MRI scans to detect these infected areas and precisely target them. The procedure is like an X-ray scan with higher radiation to eliminate the cancerous cells. This procedure reduces pain in an area of bone affected by leukemia and is usually used before a bone marrow transplant.

Stem cell transplant for leukemia

Stem cell transplants are an effective alternative treatment for patients if they do not respond well to chemotherapy. The main types of transplant are allogeneic stem cell transplant where the patient receives stem cells from someone else, preferably a parent or someone with similar stem cell types to avoid complications or infections. Another type is autologous stem cell transplant where the patient gets back their own stem cells after freezing them whilst they revive treatment. This type is commonly given when there is not a correct match.

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