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Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)

Treatment Options for Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Newly Diagnosed Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Standard Risk)

The treatment of standard-risk childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) during the remission induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases always includes combination chemotherapy. When children are in remission after remission induction therapy, a stem cell transplant using stem cells from a donor may be done. When children are not in remission after remission induction therapy, further treatment is usually the same treatment given to children with high-risk ALL.

Intrathecal chemotherapy is given to prevent the spread of leukemia cells to the brain and spinal cord.

Treatments being studied in clinical trials for standard-risk ALL include new chemotherapy regimens.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with untreated childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your child's doctor about clinical trials that may be right for your child. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Newly Diagnosed Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (High Risk)

The treatment of high-risk childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) during the remission induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases always includes combination chemotherapy. Children in the high-risk ALL group are given more anticancer drugs and higher doses of anticancer drugs, especially during the consolidation/intensification phase, than children in the standard-risk group.

Intrathecal and systemic chemotherapy are given to prevent or treat the spread of leukemia cells to the brain and spinal cord. Sometimes radiation therapy to the brain is also given.

Treatments being studied in clinical trials for high-risk ALL include new chemotherapy regimens with or without targeted therapy or stem cell transplant.

Newly Diagnosed Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (Special Groups)

T-cell childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

The treatment of T-cell childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) during the remission induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases always includes combination chemotherapy. Children with T-cell ALL are given more anticancer drugs and higher doses of anticancer drugs than children with B-cell ALL in the standard-risk group.

Intrathecal and systemic chemotherapy are given to prevent the spread of leukemia cells to the brain and spinal cord. Sometimes radiation therapy to the brain is also given.

Treatments being studied in clinical trials for T-cell ALL include new anticancer agents and chemotherapy regimens with or without targeted therapy.

Infants with ALL

The treatment of infants with ALL during the remission induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases always includes combination chemotherapy. Infants with ALL are given different anticancer drugs and higher doses of anticancer drugs than children 1 year and older in the standard-risk group. It is not clear whether a stem cell transplant during first remission improves survival.

Intrathecal and systemic chemotherapy are given to prevent the spread of leukemia cells to the brain and spinal cord.

Treatments being studied in clinical trials for infants with ALL include the following:

  • A clinical trial of chemotherapy followed by a donor stem cell transplant for infants with certain gene changes.

Children 10 years and older and teenagers with ALL

The treatment of ALL in children and teenagers (10 years and older) during the remission induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases always includes combination chemotherapy. Children 10 years and older and teenagers with ALL are given more anticancer drugs and higher doses of anticancer drugs than children in the standard-risk group.

Intrathecal and systemic chemotherapy are given to prevent the spread of leukemia cells to the brain and spinal cord. Sometimes radiation therapy to the brain is also given.

Treatments being studied in clinical trials for children 10 years and older and teenagers with ALL include new anticancer agents and chemotherapy regimens with or without targeted therapy.

Philadelphia chromosome–positive ALL

The treatment of Philadelphia chromosome –positive childhood ALL during the remission induction, consolidation /intensification, and maintenance phases may include the following:

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with T-cell childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and Philadelphia chromosome positive childhood precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your child's doctor about clinical trials that may be right for your child. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

Relapsed Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Standard treatment of relapsed childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that comes back in the bone marrow may include the following:

Standard treatment of relapsed childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) that comes back outside the bone marrow may include the following:

Some of the treatments being studied in clinical trials for relapsed childhood ALL include:

  • New anticancer drugs and new combination chemotherapy treatments.
  • Combination chemotherapy and new kinds of targeted therapies.

Check for U.S. clinical trials from NCI's list of cancer clinical trials that are now accepting patients with recurrent childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. For more specific results, refine the search by using other search features, such as the location of the trial, the type of treatment, or the name of the drug. Talk with your child's doctor about clinical trials that may be right for your child. General information about clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.

  • Updated: December 12, 2014