Treatments for childhood leukemia

If your child has leukemia, the healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for your child. It will be based on your child’s health and specific information about the leukemia. When deciding which treatments to offer for childhood leukemia, the healthcare team will consider:

  • the type and subtype of leukemia
  • chromosome and gene changes within the leukemia cells
  • response to treatment
  • whether there are leukemia cells in the brain and spinal cord (called the central nervous system, or CNS)
  • the prognostic factors
  • the risk group
  • your child’s age
  • your child’s overall health

Find out more about treatments for childhood ALL and treatments for childhood AML.

Expert review and references

  • National Cancer Institute. Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic LeukemiaTreatment (PDQ®) Patient Version. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute; 2012.

Treatments for childhood ALL

The main treatment for childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia is chemotherapy. Learn about how treatment is planned and treatment options for childhood ALL.

Treatments for childhood AML

The main treatment for childhood acute myelogenous leukemia is chemotherapy. Learn about how treatment is planned and treatment options for childhood AML.

Chemotherapy for childhood leukemia

Chemotherapy is commonly used to treat childhood leukemia. Learn how and when chemotherapy is used and what chemotherapy drugs and combinations are used.

Targeted therapy for childhood leukemia

Targeted therapy is sometimes used to treat childhood leukemia. It uses drugs to target specific molecules (such as proteins) on cancer cells or inside them. These molecules help send signals that tell cells to grow or divide. By targeting these molecules, the drugs stop the growth and spread of cancer cells and limit harm to normal cells. Targeted therapy may also be called molecular targeted therapy.

Immunotherapy for childhood leukemia

Immunotherapy is sometimes used to treat childhood leukemia that doesn’t respond to other treatments or comes back after treatment. Immunotherapy helps to strengthen or restore the immune system’s ability to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is sometimes called biological therapy.

Radiation therapy for childhood leukemia

Radiation therapy may be used to treat childhood leukemia. Learn about radiation therapy, when it is used and how it is given.

Stem cell transplant for childhood leukemia

Stem cell transplant may be used to treat childhood leukemia. It involves replacing a child’s stem cells. Learn more about stem cell transplant.

Supportive therapy for childhood leukemia

Supportive therapy is an important part of childhood leukemia treatment. Learn about ways to treat complications of leukemia and its treatment.

Follow-up after treatment for childhood leukemia

Follow-up after childhood leukemia treatment varies. Learn about scheduled follow-up appointments and the procedures and tests that may be done.

Late effects of treatments for childhood leukemia

Adjusting to life after treatment for childhood leukemia is different for each child. Learn how to cope with the late side effects of treatment.