Pediatric Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)
Treatments for Pediatric CML (Chronic Myeloid Leukemia)
Many times, children with CML are already extremely ill when they are first diagnosed with leukemia. For example, a shortage of normal white blood cells may have led to serious infections, or low platelet levels may have caused severe bleeding. These critical health issues must be addressed before CML treatment can be initiated.
When tailoring treatment for CML, Sheba’s doctors consider the child’s unique condition – paying attention to the phase of the leukemia, quantity of cancerous cells in the body, and how other organs in the body are functioning. Our hematologists and medical oncologists combine their skills and experience to customize integrative therapies for each individual. Treatment options at Sheba for CML in children include:
Chemotherapy (chemo) is the use of anti-cancer drugs that reach all areas of the body, which is why it can be suitable for cancers that spread, such as CML. In general, chemo works to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by preventing them from dividing or killing them. However, unlike with acute leukemia, chemotherapy cannot cure childhood CML.
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Targeted therapy uses drugs to locate and attack specific leukemia cells without harming normal cells in the body. The first treatment for patients with newly diagnosed CML is often tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as Imatinib, which can eliminate leukemia from the blood and prolong the chronic phase of the disease – thereby delaying transformation to the accelerated phase. These drugs can often control CML for long periods of time, however patients usually need to keep taking them daily.
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Bone Marrow Transplant / Stem Cell Transplant
When CML does not respond sufficiently to TKI targeted therapy drugs, a stem cell transplant along with high-dose chemotherapy may be considered. An allogeneic bone marrow transplant (using stem cells from a genetically suitable donor) is regarded as the only potential cure for CML.
During this procedure, diseased bone marrow cells are replaced by specialized stem cells that grow and restore the body’s normal blood cells. At present, scientific research is investigating whether adding targeted therapy drugs to stem cell transplant treatment can help to raise cure rates.
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Holistic Treatments at Sheba Medical Center
As we treat CML in children, our compassionate medical team treats the whole child. Promoting a high quality of life is an important part of every personalized treatment program at Sheba. Coping with cancer is challenging, and we strive to provide therapies that are as comfortable and efficient as possible. Our holistic healthcare includes a full range of support services for children and their families, including social workers, nutrition counseling, and alternative therapies.