Chemotherapy for Leukemia

How Chemotherapy Is Administered

Chemotherapy drugs are generally administered in three ways:

  • By mouth in the form of a pill you swallow
  • By injection
  • Locally (directly to the tumor site)

Injection methods include:

  • Intra-arterial (IA): into an artery
  • Intramuscular (IM): into a muscle
  • Intravenous (IV): into a vein
  • Subcutaneous (SubQ): into the skin

Local/direct methods include:

  • Intracavitary: in the cavity (or space) where your tumor had been prior to surgery
  • Interstitial: into body tissue
  • Intraperitoneal: into your abdomen or peritoneal cavity (intestines, liver, stomach, ovaries)
  • Intrathecal: into the fluid-filled space surrounding your brain and spinal cord
  • Intratumoral: into the tumor
  • Intraventicular: into a ventricle
  • Convection-enhanced delivery: into your tumor using gravity or controlled flow

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where high-powered medications are used to kill cancer cells. It’s a systemic approach to cancer treatment, where drugs are delivered through your bloodstream, targeting cancer cells throughout your body.

Scott & White’s Approach

Scott & White’s mission to provide personalized, comprehensive care is the foundation for our chemotherapy program.

Our medical oncologists take meticulous care to determine which chemotherapy drug or drugs are best for you. Several factors impact their decision, including the type, location and stage of your specific tumor and your overall medical condition.

How Chemotherapy Is Used to Treat Leukemia

Your physician team may recommend chemotherapy to treat your leukemia.

Chemotherapy is a form of cancer treatment where drugs are injected, given orally or through an IV, to keep your cancer from spreading.

Often chemotherapy drugs are used in combination to attack cancer cells. They’re also often effective against leukemia when used in combination with corticosteroids.

Chemotherapy for leukemia is usually given in cycles over several months.

Chemotherapy is used in some cases:

  • As induction therapy to destroy as many cancer cells as possible
  • As consolidation therapy while you’re in remission to destroy any remaining cancer cells
  • In combination with blood stem-cell transplantation
  • When other treatments fail or are no longer helpful
  • As a palliative — to relieve the symptoms caused by leukemia, such as bone pain

There are a wide variety of chemotherapy drugs available to treat cancer. At Scott & White, we use all the standard chemotherapies.

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Side Effects of Chemotherapy

Each chemotherapy drug is different and each person’s reaction to it can vary. At Scott & White, your hematologist/oncologist will see you through treatment and help you manage any side effects.

Here are some common side effects of chemotherapy drugs for leukemia:

  • Fatigue
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bruising or bleeding
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Lowered resistance to infection

For more information about possible side effects, please talk to your medical oncologist.


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