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32

NCCN Guidelines for Patients

®

:

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Version 1.2017

4

Cancer treatments

Chemotherapy

Ask your treatment team if there is an open clinical

trial that you can join. There may be clinical trials

where you are getting treatment or at other treatment

centers nearby. You can also find clinical trials

through the websites listed in Part 6. 

Chemotherapy

The main treatment for ALL involves the long-term

use of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy is the use

of drugs to kill cancer. Many people refer to this

treatment as “chemo.” Chemotherapy drugs kill fast-

growing cells throughout the body, including normal

cells and cancer cells.

Different types of chemotherapy drugs work different

ways to kill leukemia cells or stop new ones from

being made. Thus, more than one drug is often

used. When only one drug is used, it’s called a single

agent. A combination regimen is the use of two or

more cancer drugs. This is also called multiagent

chemotherapy.

Chemotherapy is given in cycles of treatment days

followed by days of rest. This allows the body to

recover before the next treatment cycle. Cycles

vary in length depending on which drugs are used.

The number of treatment days per cycle and the

total number of cycles given also varies based on

the regimen used. A regimen is a treatment plan

that specifies the drug(s), dose, and schedule for

a course of treatment. A chemotherapy regimen

consists of a set number of cycles given over a set

amount of time. You may be given one drug at a time

or combinations of drugs at the same time.

Treatment for ALL often uses 4- or 5-drug

combination regimens. Some of the most common

chemotherapy drugs used for ALL are listed in

Guide 4.

Guide 4. Common chemotherapy

drugs for ALL

Generic name

Brand name (sold as)

Asparaginase erwinia

chrysanthemi

Erwinaze

®

Clofarabine

Clolar

®

Cyclophosphamide

--

Cytarabine

Cytosar-U

®

Daunorubicin

Cerubidine

®

Doxorubicin

--

Idarubicin

Idamycin PFS

Ifosfamide

--

Mercaptopurine or 6-MP

(6-

m

ercapto

p

urine)

Purinethol

®

, Purixan™

Methotrexate

--

Nelarabine

Arranon

®

Pegaspargase

Oncaspar

®

Vincristine

--

VSLI (

v

incristine

s

ulfate

l

iposome

i

njection)

Marqibo