Chemotherapy for CML
Chemotherapy uses anti-cancer drugs called cytotoxics that kill or slow the growth of the leukaemia cells.
Learn more about:
- When is chemotherapy used?
- Side effects of chemotherapy
- Taking care of infections during chemotherapy
- Video: What is chemotherapy?
When is chemotherapy used?
For CML, chemotherapy is used:
- before starting a tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) – you may be given a mild chemotherapy tablet called hydroxyurea for a short time to lower your white blood cell count and get symptoms under control
- for people in the chronic phase who can’t take TKIs – they may be treated with hydroxyurea tablets for several months
- for people who have not responded to TKI therapy or who are preparing for a stem cell transplant
- for people in the blast phase – these drugs are often given into a vein (intravenously) and tend to be much stronger, so the treatment may be given in hospital.
Side effects of chemotherapy
The side effects depend on the type of chemotherapy drugs you have. Hydroxyurea tablets may cause dry skin, nausea, drowsiness and a small amount of hair loss. These side effects tend to be mild, and there are medicines available to help manage them.
Intravenous chemotherapy uses stronger drugs and usually has more side effects, such as an increased risk of infections, bruising easily, nausea, taste and smell changes, or fatigue.
Video: What is chemotherapy?
Watch this short video to learn more about chemotherapy.
Podcast: Making Treatment Decisions
Dr Chun Kei Kris Ma, Clinical Haematologist, Western Sydney Local Health District; Delphine Eggen, Consumer; Dr Robin Gasiorowski, Staff Specialist, Haematology, Concord Hospital; Karl A Jobburn, Haematology Clinical Nurse Consultant, Liverpool Hospital; Yvonne King, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Heather Mackay, Clinical Nurse Consultant, Westmead Hospital; Jennifer Paton, Consumer.
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