SUPPORT CANADIANS LIVING WITH CANCER
Consolidation treatments for acute myelogenous leukemia
Consolidation treatment is also called post-remission therapy. The goal of consolidation treatment for acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is to prevent leukemia cells from coming back. It is done to maintain complete remission and prevent relapse.
Chemotherapy is the main consolidation treatment for AML. Chemotherapy is given soon after remission has been reached (2–3 weeks after blood cell counts return to normal).
Treatment involves repeating cycles of the same or similar drugs used to bring about the remission. Similar or higher doses of the drugs may be used.
The most common consolidation regimens for AML include cytarabine (Cytosar, Ara-C) alone or combined with an anti-tumour antibiotic such as:
- daunorubicin (Cerubidine)
- idarubicin (Idamycin)
- mitoxantrone (Novantrone)
- thioguanine (Lanvis, 6-TG)
Other regimens include:
- high-dose cytarabine (HDAC) alone
- azacitidine (Vidaza) for older people
Central nervous system treatment
The central nervous system (CNS) is the brain and spinal cord. If the leukemia has spread to the CNS, treatment may include chemotherapy given directly into the spinal fluid (called intrathecal chemotherapy). The drug used in intrathecal chemotherapy is methotrexate or cytarabine. It is given during a lumbar puncturelumbar punctureA procedure in which a needle is inserted into the lower part (lumbar region) of the spinal column. or through an Ommaya reservoirOmmaya reservoirA device surgically implanted beneath the scalp that is used to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) around the brain and spinal cord..
Radiation therapy is sometimes given to the brain and spinal cord along with intrathecal chemotherapy.
Stem cell transplant
You may be offered a stem cell transplant for consolidation therapy for AML. The preferred type of transplant is an allogeneic transplant if a matched donor is available. If a matched donor is not available, autologous stem cell transplant may be an option for some people.
Radiation therapy may be given as part of the conditioning treatment before stem cell transplant. It may also be used to treat AML that has spread to the central nervous system.
Supportive therapy is important during every phase of AML treatment. It is used to treat the complications that usually happen with treatments for AML and the disease itself.
Supportive therapies given during consolidation treatment may include:
- antibiotics and antifungals to treat infections
- growth factorsgrowth factorsA substance that regulates the growth, division and survival of cells. to help the bone marrow recover from chemotherapy (chemotherapy can affect the bone marrow so it doesn’t make enough healthy blood cells, which can increase the risk for infection)
- transfusions of red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate (a product that replaces clotting factors) as needed
You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for AML. Find out more about clinical trials.
Support from someone who has ‘been there’
The Canadian Cancer Society’s peer support program is a telephone support service that matches cancer patients and their caregivers with specially trained volunteers.