Leukemia, a cancer of the blood cells, is grouped as either chronic or acute, according to MedicineNet. Chronic leukemia worsens slowly as the number of leukemia cells increase in the blood, whereas acute leukemia progresses rapidly. The type of leukemia and age of the patient both affect patient prognosis.
Acute leukemia requires immediate treatment to destroy the signs of leukemia in the body and eliminate symptoms, notes MedicineNet. Once a patient goes into remission following treatment, more treatment such as chemotherapy, targeted therapy and biological therapy may be given to prevent a relapse. With this type of maintenance therapy, many people with acute leukemia can be cured.
New medications and therapeutic approaches have largely improved the survival rates of people with different types of leukemia over the last few decades, as stated by News Medical. The prognosis is generally worse for patients with acute leukemia who have pre-existing blood disorders, other medical conditions, and a history of chemotherapy and radiation treatment from a former cancer. The spread of leukemia to the central nervous system, brain and spinal cord also worsen the patient's chances for recovery.
Chronic leukemia, without symptoms, may not require immediate treatment, explains MedicineNet. When treatment is needed, maintenance therapy often helps control the disease and its symptoms. While chronic leukemia rarely responds to chemotherapy, some patients may benefit from stem cell transplants, which help replace the blood cells that were destroyed during aggressive chemotherapy or radiation therapy with new cells.