Treatments for leukemia

Last medical review:

Your healthcare team will create a treatment plan just for you. The plan is based on your health and specific information about the cancer. What you want is also important when planning treatment. When deciding which treatments to offer for leukemia, your healthcare team will consider:

  • the type of leukemia
  • your age
  • chromosomal (genetic) abnormalities
  • your overall health
  • any medical problems you have

The following treatments may be offered for leukemia:

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for many types of leukemia.

Radiation therapy is most often used to target areas of the body where leukemia cells have built up. It is also used to prepare the bone marrow for a stem cell transplant.

Supportive therapy is given to manage problems (complications) from some types of leukemia and their treatments.

Surgery may be used in rare cases to remove the spleen.

A stem cell transplant is used for some people with certain types of leukemia.

Targeted therapy is offered for some types of leukemia.

Watchful waiting is a treatment option for some people with chronic leukemia.

Clinical trials look at new ways to prevent, find and treat cancer. Talk to your doctor about clinical trials open to people with leukemia in Canada. Find out more about clinical trials.

To make the decisions that are right for you, ask your healthcare team questions about treatment.

Treatments for the main types of leukemia

Expert review and references

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Caregiver Workbook: Understanding Blood Cancers and Treatment Options. Rye Brook, NY: 2019: