Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (cont.)

New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.

This summary section describes treatments that are being studied in clinical trials. It may not mention every new treatment being studied.

High-dose chemotherapy

High-dose chemotherapy is giving high doses of anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. This treatment often causes the bone marrow to stop making blood cells and can cause other serious side effects. High-dose chemotherapy is usually followed by stem cell transplant to restore the bone marrow. Clinical trials are studying high-dose chemotherapy for certain patients, including children whose ALL does not go into remission after induction therapy and children whose leukemia comes back after treatment (relapses).

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy is a treatment that uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells without harming normal cells.

New kinds of targeted therapies are being studied in the treatment of childhood ALL.

Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.

For some patients, taking part in a clinical trial may be the best treatment choice. Clinical trials are part of the cancer research process. Clinical trials are done to find out if new cancer treatments are safe and effective or better than the standard treatment.

Many of today's standard treatments for cancer are based on earlier clinical trials. Patients who take part in a clinical trial may receive the standard treatment or be among the first to receive a new treatment.

Patients who take part in clinical trials also help improve the way cancer will be treated in the future. Even when clinical trials do not lead to effective new treatments, they often answer important questions and help move research forward.

Patients can enter clinical trials before, during, or after starting their cancer treatment.

Some clinical trials only include patients who have not yet received treatment. Other trials test treatments for patients whose cancer has not gotten better. There are also clinical trials that test new ways to stop cancer from recurring (coming back) or reduce the side effects of cancer treatment.

Clinical trials are taking place in many parts of the country. See the Treatment Options section that follows for links to current treatment clinical trials. These have been retrieved from NCI's listing of clinical trials.

Follow-up tests may be needed.

Some of the tests that were done to diagnose the cancer or to find out the stage of the cancer may be repeated. Some tests will be repeated in order to see how well the treatment is working. Decisions about whether to continue, change, or stop treatment may be based on the results of these tests. This is sometimes called re-staging.

Some of the tests will continue to be done from time to time after treatment has ended. The results of these tests can show if your condition has changed or if the cancer has recurred (come back). These tests are sometimes called follow-up tests or check-ups.

Treatment Options for Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

A link to a list of current clinical trials is included for each treatment section. For some types or stages of cancer, there may not be any trials listed. Check with your doctor for clinical trials that are not listed here but may be right for you.

Newly Diagnosed Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Standard treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) during the induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases may include the following:

  • Combination chemotherapy.
  • CNS sanctuary therapy with intrathecal chemotherapy and high-dose chemotherapy. Sometimes radiation therapy to the brain may be given.
  • Combination chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant using stem cells from a donor.
  • A clinical trial of a new combination chemotherapy and intrathecal chemotherapy regimen given with or without radiation therapy. The chemotherapy dose and/or schedule may vary depending on the patient's risk group after induction therapy.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with untreated childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia 12. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug.

Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Subgroups

Standard treatment of T-cell childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) may include the following:

  • Combination chemotherapy. CNS sanctuary therapy with intrathecal chemotherapy and radiation therapy to the brain may also be given.
  • A clinical trial studying a new anticancer drug, the doses of certain anticancer drugs, and the use of radiation therapy to the brain.

Standard treatment of infants with ALL may include the following:

  • Combination chemotherapy. CNS sanctuary therapy with intrathecal chemotherapy may also be given.
  • Chemotherapy followed by a donor stem cell transplant has been studied but it is not known if this treatment improves survival.
  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy followed by a donor stem cell transplant for infants with certain gene changes.
  • A clinical trial of combination chemotherapy and targeted therapy with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Standard treatment of ALL in older children and teenagers may include the following:

  • Combination chemotherapy using stronger doses of anticancer drugs than those used for young children.
  • A clinical trial of a new chemotherapy regimen.
  • A clinical trial studying a new anticancer drug, the doses of certain anticancer drugs, and the use of radiation therapy to the brain.

Standard treatment of Philadelphia chromosome -positive childhood ALL may include the following:

  • Combination chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant using stem cells from a donor.
  • Combination chemotherapy followed by targeted therapy with a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (imatinib mesylate).
  • A clinical trial of combination chemotherapy and a new tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with T-cell childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia 14 and Philadelphia chromosome positive childhood precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia 15. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug.


Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Experience Question: Please describe your experience with childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Family History Question: If your child has ALL, is there a family history or exposure to radiation? Please share your story.
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Signs Question: What were your child's signs and symptoms associated with ALL?
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Diagnosis Question: Please describe the tests that led to a diagnosis of ALL.
Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia - Treatment Question: What types of treatment has your child experienced for ALL?

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