What to Consider When Treating sAML

It’s important to understand your disease and why a specific treatment may be right for you. We’ve provided some common treatment options below to give you a better sense of what they are and how they work.

If you’ve just recently been diagnosed with secondary acute myeloid leukemia (sAML), your treatment options may vary. You may undergo induction therapy – which is usually the first phase of treatment.1 Consolidation therapy – also known as post-remission therapy – is the second phase of treatment that is used to destroy leukemia cells that may remain in the body and to help prevent a relapse.2 There are five types of treatment that can be given as a part of induction and/or consolidation therapy:1

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is often used to treat many different types of cancer, and for some people, it is the only treatment they receive. Chemotherapy works by stopping or slowing the growth of cancer cells.3 For sAML patients, the way chemotherapy is given depends on the subtype of leukemia and if the leukemia cells have spread to other parts of the body.2

Talking with your doctor may help you understand more about the chemotherapy option that is right for you. The type, or intensity level, of chemotherapy usually depends on certain characteristics such as age and overall health. For example, if you are under the age of 60 or are currently in good health, your doctor may recommend a high-intensity treatment.2

Your doctor may also use treatment guidelines to help determine if you may be fit for intensive chemotherapy after reviewing your health history and goals for therapy in more detail. For elderly individuals, your doctor may recommend a low-intensity form of chemotherapy.4,5

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy is a type of treatment that uses x-rays or other type of radiation to eliminate cancer cells or stop them from growing. Radiation can be focused on the body part(s) where the cancer is located (this is called external radiation therapy). Additionally, there is another option that treats the entire body with radiation (this is called total-body irradiation). Total-body irradiation may be used to help prepare the body for a stem cell transplant if an individual’s sAML has returned.1

Chemotherapy with Stem Cell Transplant

While chemotherapy is known to be very effective at killing cancer cells, it can also affect healthy, blood-forming cells in the process. A stem cell transplant is a treatment option that can be used in combination with chemotherapy to replace or restore the body’s blood-forming cells. Before the transplant operation, a doctor will freeze and store stem cells – immature blood cells – that have been removed from the blood or bone marrow of either the patient or a donor. Those stem cells are then thawed and infused into the patient’s bloodstream following high-intensity chemotherapy and/or total-body irradiation.1

Targeted Therapy

Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances to identify and attack specific cancer cells and may cause less harm to normal cells than chemotherapy or radiation therapy do. There are various types of targeted therapy.1

New Types of Treatments Being Tested in Clinical Trials

There are also new types of treatment that are currently being tested in clinical trials.1 If you’re interested in learning more, you can ask your doctor or nurse to direct you to more information.

Consolidation Therapy: Factors to Consider

The choice of consolidation therapy for each person depends on their age, general health condition and the likelihood of their sAML coming back after initial treatment.2

Other factors doctors look at when recommending what type of therapy a patient should get:2

  • How many rounds of chemotherapy it took to achieve remission
  • The availability of a sibling or donor who matches the patient’s tissue type
  • The possibility of collecting leukemia-free bone marrow cells from the patient
  • Patient’s wishes relating to quality of life
  • Prognostic factors, such as state of disease and medical history

Finally, since treatment for sAML may cause side effects, patients have the option to receive different types of supportive care. Types of supportive care may include red blood cell and platelet transfusions, as well as antibiotics and antifungals to treat any resulting infections.1

Speak with your healthcare team to help determine the right treatment for you.

Finally, it’s important to keep in mind that sAML treatment may cause side effects. Before you begin a new treatment, make sure to ask your doctor or nurse what to expect so you can prepare accordingly.1