Blood Cancer Treatment

Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) is an aggressive condition that develops rapidly, so treatment will usually begin a few days after a diagnosis has been confirmed.

Treatment for AML is often carried out in two stages:

  • Induction – the aim of this initial stage of treatment is to kill as many leukaemia cells in patient bone marrow and blood as possible, restore patient blood to proper working order and treat any symptoms patient may have.
  • Consolidation – this stage aims to prevent the cancer returning (relapsing), by killing any remaining leukaemia cells that may be present in patient body.

The induction stage of treatment is not always successful and sometimes needs to be repeated before consolidation can begin. If patient have a relapse after treatment, both reinduction and consolidation may need to be carried out. This may be the same as patient first treatment, but if the relapse is a number of years later, it is likely to involve different medications or a stem cell transplant

If patient can have intensive induction chemotherapy, this will usually involve being given a combination of chemotherapy medication at a high dose, to kill the cancerous cells in patient bone marrow and blood. This stage of treatment will be carried out in hospital or in a specialist centre, as patient will require very close medical and nursing supervision. Patient will have regular blood transfusions, as patient blood is unlikely to contain enough healthy blood cells.

Because chemotherapy and radiation therapy can end up killing off healthy blood cells, patients may receive a stem cell transplant. A stem cell transplant allows the patients body to develop new, healthy blood cells. The transplanted stem cells may come from the patient or someone who donates them to the patient. Patients who receive a stem cell transplant often must stay in the hospital for a long period of time because they may get sick easily. They must also be monitored to make sure their body will not fight against the new stem cells.