Treatment of CLL

Treatment for CLL may include:

  • Watchful waiting: Through careful monitoring, some patients with slow-growing CLL may be able to avoid treatment until the disease begins to progress.
  • Clinical trials can provide eligible patients with access to promising new therapies.
  • Immunotherapy boosts your immune system to fight the cancer. This may include monoclonal antibody therapy. Immunotherapy is sometimes used in addition to chemotherapy for patients with CLL, and it can also be an option for patients who cannot undergo chemotherapy.
  • Chemotherapy involves drugs that attack the cancer cells directly.
  • Targeted therapies are designed to attack the cancer cells only, usually without affecting healthy cells, so they are associated with minimal side effects. Pioneering clinical research conducted at Roswell Park showed for the first time that the targeted therapy lenalidomide can trigger a response in CLL patients — including some whose disease did not respond to previous treatments.
    Our researchers are working continually to develop new targeted therapies that will help turn the tide for our leukemia patients. Recently other novel targeted agents have been approved by the FDA for patients with CLL: Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitors and a B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) inhibitor.
  • Stem cell (bone marrow) transplant can cure some people with chronic leukemia. Our physicians work closely with our BMT specialists to monitor the status of all of our CLL patients on an ongoing basis, to identify patients who might benefit from the procedure. Roswell Park is home to one of the nation’s top BMT centers, and our survival rates are among the highest in the nation.

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