CureSearch for Children's Cancer funds and supportstargeted and innovative children's cancer research with measurableresults, and is the authoritative source of information and resourcesfor all those affected by children's cancer.
ALL is a cancer of the blood, so treatment is systemic, meaning it affects the entire body. At the time of diagnosis, the healthcare team will insert a central line to provide treatment.
Radiation to the brain: Most of the chemotherapy drugs used to treat ALL don’t get into the brain and spinal fluid very well. Because of this, special approaches have to be used to kill ALL cells in these areas. All children with ALL receive intrathecal chemotherapy given into the spinal fluid during a lumbar puncture. In some cases, radiation therapy is also delivered to the brain. Radiation treatments are usually given 5 days a week for about 2 weeks.
Radiation to the testicles: In most cases, ALL that is present in the testicles at diagnosis goes away quickly during the first month of treatment. If this does not happen and leukemia cells are present in the testicles at the end of Induction therapy, then radiation therapy to the testicles may be needed. These treatments are usually given 5 days/week for about 2 weeks.
Surgery: In general, ALL is not treated with surgery, although operations may need to be done to put in a central line or to perform biopsies.
Targeted therapy: For some types of ALL, new “targeted” therapies have been developed that are added to chemotherapy. Right now, this mainly applies to a rare type of ALL called “Philadelphia chromosome positive ALL.” In the future, such therapies may be available for more types of ALL.
Bone marrow stem cell transplant: Only a small percentage of children’s ALL cases are treated with bone marrow transplant at the time of initial diagnosis. This type of treatment is used more frequently to treat ALL that has relapsed one or more times.
The majority of children with cancer participate in research studies. This high rate of participation has been essential to improving the cure rates for children’s cancer.
Researchers design various studies to improve treatment and advance the understanding of cancer and its causes. Clinical trials are carefully reviewed and must be approved through a formal scientific process before anyone can be enrolled. If there is a research study “open” that your child is “eligible for,” you may be asked to allow your child to participate. It is also possible that your child will be asked to participate in more than one study.
Whether an individual is eligible for a particular study may depend on age, location of the cancer, the extent of the disease and other information. Researchers usually must limit their study to some of these characteristics to have a scientifically valid study. Further, researchers must follow exactly the same restrictions throughout the study.
If your child is eligible to participate in one or more study, your doctor will discuss these with you during an initial treatment conference (also called informed consent conference). The doctor will describe the study, potential risks of participation, and other information you need to decide whether or not you would like your child to participate in the study. You always have the choice to participate or not in research studies.
If you do choose to have your child participate in a study, you doctor will explain what type of information you will receive about the results of the study. The overall results of the research study will be published to inform the public and other researchers. No study will publish any information that identifies an individual.
Visit the Clinical Trials section of this website to learn more about the various kinds of research studies.
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