Acute lymphoblastic leukemia can develop in patients of any age. It mostly occurs in children under 5 years old and in adults after 50 years. The disease has a more favorable prognosis in children and they more often recover completely. In adults, especially after 65 years, the doctors are not always able to cure the disease completely. Germany has achieved the tremendous success in the treatment of acute leukemia. With the help of chemotherapy or stem cell transplant, many patients can be completely cured.
What is consolidation?
The treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukemia involves several stages. Initially, the child receives intensive chemotherapy. This treatment option allows for quick remission of the disease. The next stage is consolidation. Its main task is to prevent cancer relapse.
Remission is a reduction in the number of blast cells in the red bone marrow up to 5% or less. With their number decrease to 5-20%, this is an incomplete remission. To understand whether treatment is successful, the doctors regularly take bone marrow samples for analysis. A blood test is not indicative, since blood can preserve a large number of blast cells for a long time, which were formed long ago, but have not died yet.
A child reaches complete remission in acute lymphoblastic leukemia in 95% of cases within 1 month. This is followed by the consolidation phase. It may include the following procedures:
- conventional chemotherapy;
- intrathecal chemotherapy;
- radiation therapy;
- stem cell transplant;
- targeted therapy.
Chemotherapy is the only method, which is prescribed for each child. Other treatment options can be applied only in certain cases.
The prescription of drugs, which destroy the tumor, is the main treatment option during consolidation phase. Although the number of blast cells in the bone marrow is low, this does not mean that the cancer is cured. At the consolidation stage, the doctors strive to completely cure the disease by means of chemotherapy, as it is the main treatment method.
In children, it is often possible to be achieved. B-cell lymphoblastic leukemia, which develops during the first 9 years of life, is less resistant to treatment. Most patients fall into this category, since most of the cases occur during the first 5 years of life.
In adults, the treatment outcomes are worse. It is more difficult for them to achieve a remission. They often require prolonged, intensive chemotherapy. As a result, remission can be achieved in 85% of patients, but this may take longer. The relapses in adults occur more often. Only 40% of patients are cured of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in developed countries.
Other treatment methods
The tumor can sometimes spread to the central nervous system. Most drugs cannot penetrate through blood-brain barrier. Therefore, they have to be injected directly into the cerebrospinal fluid. The doctors perform this procedure by means of lumbar puncture. A needle is inserted between the lumbar vertebrae.
Intrathecal chemotherapy is not an option of choice for all patients. Nonetheless, if the tumor has spread to the brain, the therapy begins at the induction stage, and then it continues during the consolidation phase. The children may sometimes have seizures during the therapy. Therefore, they can be prescribed anticonvulsants.
Here are other methods of therapy, which can be used at the consolidation stage:
- irradiation can be used in the case of tumor formation in the brain in T-cell leukemia;
- stem cell transplantation can be applied in unfavorable prognosis, if the probability of curing the disease using chemotherapy is low;
- targeted therapy can be effective only in leukemia with the Philadelphia chromosome (determined during genetic diagnostics);
- immunotherapy is a less effective technique than chemotherapy, but sometimes it can be used, when the standard drugs fail to be effective.
Results and side effects
The patient reviews show that chemotherapy at the consolidation stage always has side effects. Nevertheless, the consequences are less severe than at the induction stage. This is due to the fact that:
- less intensive chemotherapy regimens are used, although treatment lasts longer;
- there is no tumor lysis syndrome, which is observed at the initial stage of intensive treatment of advanced cancer.
When studying medical histories of the patients and their reviews, one can find out that the course of chemotherapy is always accompanied by side effects. The side effects of cancer treatment are at least hair loss, nausea, weakness and irritable bowel syndrome. Some drugs can give additional side effects. They worsen the functioning of the heart, liver and kidneys. Therefore, the therapy in Germany is constantly monitored by tests. In the case of severe symptoms, the doctors take measures for their reduction.
A complete blood count always reveals the low levels of all cells, such as erythrocytes, platelets, leukocytes. The blast forms of leukocytes circulating in the blood are not functionally complete and cannot protect the body from infectious diseases.
Here are the main symptoms, which may occur in case of prolonged cancer treatment:
- pale skin, shortness of breath, fatigue, increased heart rate – a consequence of the decreased levels of erythrocytes;
- bleeding gums, bruises on the body, nosebleeds – a consequence of platelet deficiency;
- infectious diseases – the result of reduced immunity.
Nevertheless, the treatment results are usually good. The induction takes 3-4 weeks. This is followed by consolidation, which lasts for several months. After this, maintenance therapy is required. As a result, many patients recover.
Should relapses occur, the return of the cancer will be detected during the treatment process, or not later than 12 months upon its completion. The relapses are rare in 1-2 years after therapy completion. If more than 2 years have passed, the patient is most likely to completely cure from acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Treatment in Germany with the Booking Health company
You can undergo cancer treatment in Germany, as this country offers modern Cancer Centers, where the doctors succeed in the treatment of lymphoblastic leukemia in patients of all age groups. To receive the best medical care at an affordable cost, you can use the services of the Booking Health company. We will arrange your trip to one of the leading Cancer Clinics. You or your child will be able to undergo chemotherapy or bone marrow transplant there. The patients leave good feedback about our work. When cooperating with the Booking Health company you will get the following benefits:
- Selection of the best Cancer Center, which apply modern chemotherapy regimens and perform effective bone marrow transplants.
- Reduced cost of a therapy course or surgery due to the absence of overpricing and additional coefficients for foreign patients.
- Booking an appointment on the most suitable dates for you.
- Preparation of the program taking into account previously performed diagnostics.
- Establishment of communication directly with the attending physician.
- Monitoring of the program at all its stages.
- Control of invoices, return of unspent funds.
- Buying and forwarding of medicines.
- Organization of additional diagnostics or treatment procedures.
- Communication with the clinic upon treatment completion in Germany.
The Booking Health company will provide you with top-class services. We will translate a medical history and other medical documents into German, book a hotel and airline tickets for you, meet you at the German airport and take you to the clinic by car. According to feedback, most patients are satisfied with our services. Thanks to our work, you can get the medical care from the best German doctors.