Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Treatments for Leukemia

Leukemia treatment is focused on destroying cancer cells, slowing disease progression, and/or managing symptoms caused by loss of healthy blood cells. Treatment depends on the type of leukemia, extent of disease, past treatments, symptoms, age, and overall health. Treatment plans often include a combination of treatments.

Acute leukemia requires immediate medical care because its effect on normal body function can be severe. Treatment for acute leukemia can be intense in the beginning ,but can lead to complete destruction of leukemia. Lifelong monitoring will be needed to look for any return of leukemia.

Chronic leukemia is harder to cure. Most treatment is focused on relieving symptoms and slowing disease progression. If chronic leukemia is found early before it is causing symptoms, a period of watchful waiting may be recommended. It can take months or even years before chronic leukemia causes severe problems. Supportive treatment will begin once symptoms are causing health problems.

The healthcare team will be made up of a variety of health professionals including doctors, surgeons, nurses, and pharmacists. It is important to maintain contact with your medical team, adhere to recommended treatment, and go to any recommended appointments for best outcomes possible.

Leukemia treatment may include:

Existing treatment protocols have been established and continue to be modified through clinical trials. These research studies are essential to determine whether or not new treatments are both safe and effective. Since highly effective treatments for many cancers remain unknown, numerous clinical trials are always underway around the world. You may wish to ask your doctor if you should consider participating in a clinical trial. You can find out about clinical trials at the US National Institutes of Health website.


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia/lymphoma (ALL) management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated August 26, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Acute myeloid leukemia (AML). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated July 6, 2016. October 4, 2016.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)/small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 7, 2016. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Chronic myeloid leukemia. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 19, 2015. Accessed October 4, 2016.

Last reviewed December 2015 by Mohei Abouzied, MD  Last Updated: 2/4/2016