Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)
Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment
The Pediatric Hemato-Oncology Department at Sheba Medical Center features a multidisciplinary team of specialists with vast experience in treating ALL. We work together to ensure that each patient benefits from leading-edge personalized treatment plans built by our medical oncologists, hematologists, radiation oncologists, pathologists, and other specialists.
Our extensive facilities here at Sheba provide all the equipment necessary for testing and treatment so that you can benefit from quick results and immediate action throughout each stage of your cancer care.
Customized treatment plans for ALL depend on many factors, including:
- Age of the patient
- Type of ALL
- Blood count results
- Prognostic markers of the disease
- Response to initial treatment
- Whether the disease has recurred
Treatment for ALL typically lasts for 2 years and is usually intense for the first few months. Depending on the case, the approach may be different in children than in adults. Leukemia treatment occurs in 3 phases:
- Induction. In the first phase of treatment, the patient receives intense chemotherapy treatment for about a month, with the goal of putting the disease into remission.
- Consolidation. Once the patient is in remission, another intense, but short, phase begins wherein the patient receives even more chemotherapy drugs to rid the body of remaining leukemia cells.
- Maintenance. Once remission is achieved, the patient enters this 2-year phase that includes a maintenance chemotherapy program.
The main treatments used in ALL cases are:
Chemotherapy treatment for ALL is divided into the 3 phases mentioned above. During intensive phases, patients usually need to be hospitalized. With ALL, a combination of different chemotherapy drugs is given during the course of treatment.
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Targeted therapy drugs work differently from chemotherapy drugs because they are made to identify and attack specific cancer cells while leaving healthy cells alone. In some cases, they are more effective than chemotherapy drugs and they often have different side effects.
One out of every four adults with ALL has leukemia cells with the Philadelphia chromosome — an abnormal chromosome formed by the swapping of genetic material between chromosomes 9 and 22. Targeted drugs have been developed to attack this specific type of ALL.
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Radiation therapy uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells. It is not usually used in the treatment of ALL, but may be used if leukemia has spread, or before a bone marrow transplant.
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Bone Marrow Transplant / Stem Cell Transplant
A bone marrow transplant, or a stem cell transplant, is a procedure that involves replacing damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells.
Since very high doses of chemotherapy can severely damage bone marrow, a stem cell transplant allows doctors to use higher doses to kill leukemia cells and then restore the bone marrow through a transplant.
The stem cells may come from the patient (stem cells are removed and frozen before a person gets treatment), from a donor, or from umbilical cord blood. After the transplant, the new cells multiply and create healthy bone marrow.
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Car T-Cell Therapy
CAR T-cell therapy, or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapy, is a new type of cancer treatment in which the patient’s T-cells are taken and engineered in a laboratory to seek out and kill cancer cells.
T cells are removed from the patient’s blood in a laboratory and given special receptors that bind to cancer cells. The engineered T cells then grow and are infused into the patient to seek out and bind with leukemia cells.
This promising cancer treatment is just one of the many new and innovative treatments offered at Sheba Medical Center.