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How does immunotherapy for leukemia work?

Immunotherapy and/or targeted drug therapy is used to block the growth and spread of leukemia and prevent recurrence.

Unlike standard chemotherapy, which affects all cells in the body, these therapies directly target leukemia cells, helping to reduce damage to healthy cells and minimize side effects.

For patients with leukemia, immunotherapy (also called biological therapy and biotherapy) uses the body’s own immune system to block the growth and spread of cancer cells by preventing the cells from dividing or directly destroying them. Targeted drug therapy blocks the growth and spread of leukemia cells by interfering with specific molecules needed for growth.

These therapies are commonly used for the treatment of CLL. Some examples are Campath (alemtuzumab) and Rituxan (rituximab).

Oftentimes, immunotherapy and/or targeted drug therapy are used in combination with other leukemia treatments, such as chemotherapy. Your care team will work together to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to your unique diagnosis and needs.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.