Steroid therapy for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Steroids are often given with chemotherapy to help destroy the leukaemia cells.
Prednisolone or dexamethasone are two commonly used steroids for ALL.
Steroids for ALL are generally only given for a few days a month and so usually have few side effects. They are given as tablets. The side effects you may notice include:
an increased appetite
feeling more energetic
If you take steroids for some time, you may have some other temporary side effects. These can include:
high blood pressure
an increased risk of getting infections.
You may also have an increased level of sugar in the blood. If this happens, your doctor will prescribe drugs which will need to be taken daily to bring your blood sugar level back to normal. You may have to do a daily test to check for sugar in your urine. Your nurses will show you how to do this. It’s unusual for people with ALL to have to take steroids for a long time but if you do, you may notice that you put on weight.
It’s important to remember that all these side effects are temporary and will gradually disappear as the steroid dose is reduced. You should carry a card with you, or wear a Medic Alert®, stating that you are taking steroids.