Biological Therapy for Leukemia: An Introduction

People with some types of leukemia may have biological therapy. This type of leukemia treatment improves the body’s natural defenses against cancer. Biological therapy for leukemia is given by injection into a vein.

For some patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the type of biological therapy used is a monoclonal antibody. This substance binds to the leukemia cells and enables the immune system to kill leukemia cells in the blood and bone marrow.

For some patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, the biological therapy that is used is a natural substance called interferon. This substance can slow the growth of leukemia cells.

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Side Effects of Biological Therapy for Leukemia

The side effects of biological therapy differ with the types of substances used, and from patient to patient. Common side effects include rashes or swelling where the biological therapy is injected and flu-like symptoms. The healthcare team may monitor the blood for signs of anemia and other problems.

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