Treatment of childhood ALL usually occurs in phases:
In addition, children with ALL usually receive therapy to prevent or treat leukemia in the brain and spinal cord.
Your child will have bone marrow aspirations and biopsies throughout treatment. These tests show how well the cancer is responding to treatment.
The type of treatment varies depending on the child's age, disease subtype, and risk group (standard/low risk or high risk). Four types of treatment are used for childhood ALL:
Chemotherapy is the most common treatment for ALL. It involves the use of one or more drugs to kill cancer cells or prevent them from dividing and growing. Chemotherapy drugs may be taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle. They travel through the bloodstream and body. Chemotherapy that goes directly into the spinal column may be used to treat ALL that has, or may, spread to the brain and spinal cord. (ALL cells can "hide" in and around the spinal canal and spinal cord.)
Some children receiving ALL treatment experience no side effects, but others do. Side effects vary, depending on the treatment. They may include
There are many ways to manage side effects. For example, regular hand washing can help lower the risk of infection.
Your child will need regular checkups after he or she has finished treatment. Some of the tests done to diagnose ALL may be repeated to monitor your child's health and see whether the cancer has returned.
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