Adult ALL Treatment
Maintenance therapy is the second phase of adult ALL treatment that will begin once the leukemia is in remission. The purpose of maintenance therapy is to kill any remaining leukemia cells that may not be active but that could begin to regrow and cause a relapse. This phase is also called remission continuation therapy.
Another type of adult ALL treatment called central nervous system (CNS) sanctuary therapy is usually given during each phase of therapy. CNS sanctuary therapy is given to patients because chemotherapy that is given by mouth or injected into a vein may not reach leukemia cells in the CNS (brain and spinal cord). As a result, the cells are able to find "sanctuary" (hide) in the CNS. CNS sanctuary therapy and radiation therapy are able to reach leukemia cells in the CNS and are given to kill the leukemia cells and prevent the cancer from recurring (coming back). CNS sanctuary therapy is also called CNS prophylaxis.
Adult ALL Treatment Options
The three types of standard adult ALL treatment that are used include:
- Radiation therapy
- Chemotherapy with stem cell transplant.
Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing.
When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (this is called systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (this is called regional chemotherapy).
Combination chemotherapy is treatment that uses more than one anticancer drug. The way the chemotherapy is given will depend on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
Intrathecal chemotherapy may be used to treat adult ALL that has spread, or may spread, to the brain and spinal cord. When used to prevent cancer from spreading to the brain and spinal cord, it is called central nervous system (CNS) sanctuary therapy or CNS prophylaxis. Intrathecal chemotherapy is given in addition to chemotherapy by mouth or vein.