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Is B-cell leukemia treatable?

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Quick Answer

B-cell leukemia is treated through chemotherapy, immunology, targeted therapy, surgery or stem cell transplants, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. The type of treatment used depends on many factors, including the specific type of B-cell leukemia, side effects, and patient health and preferences.

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Full Answer

The medicines used for leukemia chemotherapy are delivered either intravenously or orally, ASCO states. Drugs are given either singly or in combination. Common chemotherapy medicines for B-cell hairy-cell leukemia are cladribine and pentostatin. They are typically successful in producing long-lasting remissions. Another B-cell disease, prolymphocytic leukemia is treated with a mixture of drugs selected for each patient.

Immunotherapy helps strengthen the body's immune system in order to battle cancer, reports ASCO. For instance, the drugs Alferon, Intron A and Roferon-A are prescribed for some people with HCL. Targeted therapy goes after leukemia genes and proteins, or tissue that supports them, while leaving healthy tissue alone. For example, the drug alemtuzumab targets a specific PLL protein.

In certain cases, the spleens of B-cell leukemia patients are removed surgically, ASCO explains. These forms of cancer involve white blood cells, and the spleen stores these cells, says MedlinePlus. Typically, before a stem-cell transplant, the cancer-filled bone marrow is destroyed through chemotherapy, ASCO explains. The old bone marrow is replaced by stem cells that develop into non-diseased marrow.

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