Treatments For Leukemia Essay

1228 words - 5 pages

Leukemia, a dangerous cancer but so many possible treatments to cure it. They all are incurable, but they can all be treated by five types of therapies and a certain types of blood transplant. The possible treatments are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell therapy, immunotherapy, and bone marrow transplants. Chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy require the use of radioactive substances to kill or stop the growth of the cancer cells in a persons body. Stem cell therapy requires the use of another person’s stem cells, platelets, and/or bone marrow. Immunotherapy uses certain parts of a persons immune system to fight off diseases like cancer.

A patient has the choice of ...view middle of the document...

Some possible side effects may include headache, chills, flushing, myalgia, wheezing, tachycardia, lower back pain, nausea and hypotension. Injection is where the oncologist pushes chemotherapy through a syringe directly into the IV which pushes it directly into the bloodstream. Some possible side effects may include but are not limited to decreased urination, difficult or labored breathing, dizziness, dry mouth, fainting, and fever. Lumbar punctures are insertion of needle into spinal cord: the insertion of a needle between two lumbar vertebrae into the spinal cord in order to obtain a sample of cerebrospinal fluid for diagnosis or to introduce medication. Some side effects are seizures, minor nerve injury, spinal or epidural bleeding, spinal cord or spinal nerve roots injury, and paraplegia or paralysis of the lower half of the body.

There are three possible radiation treatments for leukemia. The first is an external beam radiation, followed by internal beam radiation, and systemic radiation. External beam radiation is an outside machine using photon beams to target the cancer. It can also be used to treat large parts of the body. Patients go into an outpatient clinic every day for several weeks to receive treatment. Internal beam radiation or brachytherapy is a source of radiation put near the area of treatment. Patients are given a high dose of treatment in a small amount of time. Systemic radiation is done by giving the patient radiopharmaceuticals either by IV or taken orally to travel through the body and kill the cancer cells. Side effects for all radiations may include the damage healthy cells and tissues, becoming very tired, hair loss, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite. For brachytherapy there are some extra side effects that may include a higher amount of radiation left in the body, which may require the patient to stay in a quarantine room for a period of time.

Stem cell treatments are very high doses of chemo, often along with radiation therapy, to try to destroy all the cancer cells. This treatment also kills the stem cells in the bone marrow. Soon after treatment, stem cells are given to replace those that were destroyed. These stem cells are given into a vein, much like a blood transfusion. Over time they settle in the bone marrow and begin to grow and make healthy blood cells. This process is called engraftment. Side effects of stem cell transplants may include the suppression of the bone marrow: white blood cell, red blood cell, and platelet counts will drop very low There is a risk of infection and the need to use antibiotics will be required.

Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a persons immune system to fight off infections like cancer. It helps stimulate the immune system to work or fight smarter. Patients can be given man-made immune system proteins to help stimulate the strength of the immune...

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