Benefits and disadvantages of treatment for AML

The possible benefits of treatment vary depending on each individual situation.

Many people will be offered intensive chemotherapy. This means chemotherapy drugs given at full dose. Intensive chemotherapy aims to cure the leukaemia and involves spending long periods of time in hospital – often several weeks. You are likely to have side effects, but most of them are temporary and can usually be controlled with medicines. However some effects, such as infertility, may be permanent. For some people, intensive chemotherapy will cure the leukaemia, but others may not respond to the treatment. This means that some people may experience the difficult side effects of treatment without any of the benefits.

Some people may not be fit enough to have intensive treatment. Others may choose not to have it. Instead, they may have lower doses of chemotherapy to control the leukaemia rather than to get rid of it completely. This treatment can often be given as an outpatient, so less time is spent in hospital. The chances of the disease going into remission and staying in remission are lower with this treatment.

For people who do have treatment, sometimes the leukaemia doesn’t respond well or the treatment controlling it stops being effective. In these situations, you can still be given supportive (palliative) care to help control your symptoms.

Your haematologist is the best person to discuss your situation with. In some hospitals, specialist nurses are available to talk over all the possible benefits and side effects of treatment.

Back to Coming to your decision

Finding out your treatment options

Knowing basic information about your type of cancer and different treatments options can help you to make an informed treatment decision.

Making your decision

Your doctor may tell you there are different options for your treatment having the right information will help you make the right decision for you.