How Is Chronic Leukemia Treated?

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, one of the most common types of leukemia in adults, has five types of standard treatment: watchful waiting, surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy and radiation therapy, according to the National Cancer Institute. Patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia can undergo six types of standard treatment: surgery, targeted therapy, biologic therapy, chemotherapy, donor lymphocyte infusion and high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment is designed to get rid of blood cells that contain an abnormal gene that causes the overproduction of diseased cells, according to Mayo Clinic. Taking targeted drugs is an initial treatment for many patients suffering from this form of chronic leukemia. These drugs, such as nilotinib, imatinib, bosutinib, dasatinib and omacetaxine, are designed to target a specific characteristic of cancer cells that makes them spread and multiply.

As of 2015, chronic lymphocytic leukemia treatments being studied in clinical trials include biologic therapy and chemotherapy with stem cell transplants, explains the National Cancer Institute. Watchful waiting involves the close monitoring of a patient's well-being without administering medication until signs or symptoms appear. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to destroy cancer cells and prevent them from spreading. Chemotherapy is a common treatment that uses medication to stop cancer cell growth by either stopping cells from dividing or destroying the cells entirely.