The therapy of acute lymphatic leukemia must be carried out in a specialized center, so that it can be really effective. It is also important to take additional measures to protect the body and support it in healing.
Supportive measures include, for example, making sure that the environment is low in germs. For children, this means that they must be taken out of kindergarten and school and often admitted to hospital. Special hygiene measures must be taken both at home and in hospital.
If, despite this, an infection with any disease occurs, it is essential to support the immune system with broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Improving the quality of life
To improve the quality of life, so-called concentrates of blood components can be given. For example, red blood cells (erythrocytes) are given if there are signs of anemia, and platelets (thrombocytes) are given if there is a tendency to bleed.
Chemotherapy as a central treatment
A real improvement of the disease can only be achieved by chemotherapy. This takes place in several phases, between which there are recovery phases in which the body can recover from the aggressive drugs.
Often, the chemotherapy is first prepared in a preliminary phase so that the actual therapy can be more effective later. In an induction therapy, which usually lasts eight weeks, an attempt is then made to achieve remission, i.e. to reduce the leukaemia cells by 95%. This is done by administering drugs that destroy cells that divide quickly. Of course, this has many unpleasant side effects, as healthy body cells are also attacked.
This is followed by the so-called consolidation therapy, in which strong drugs are given for another eight weeks. This is followed by a six-week reinduction therapy, which is basically the same as the induction therapy.
Once these difficult weeks have been survived, maintenance therapy is initiated, in which oral medications are given over two years, which should help to keep you in remission, to stop the tumor cells from spreading any further.
Alternative or extended therapies
If chemotherapy does not have the desired effect, frequent relapses occur or particularly severe forms of ALL are present, then radiation therapy may also be considered.
Alternatively, stem cell transplantation or bone marrow transplantation can be performed. Although it is often possible to keep the body in remission, it is important to realise that this does not amount to a cure. It only means that the disease is kept in check. A cure is only achieved when all the degenerated cells have been destroyed.