Interferon Alpha for CML

Interferon alpha is a protein that the body normally makes during viral infections, such as flu. Scientists can make this protein in the laboratory.

If other treatments haven’t worked, occasionally some people are given interferon alpha in the chronic phase. Doctors may also use it for women who need treatment and are pregnant or want to become pregnant.

You have interferon alpha as an injection under the skin using a very fine needle. You or a relative or friend can be taught how to give these injections so you can have them at home.

Side effects

Interferon alpha can cause various side effects. Some are similar to the symptoms of flu. They include:

  • chills
  • fever
  • depression
  • weight loss
  • headaches
  • aching in the back, joints and muscles
  • tiredness.

Some of these side effects can be reduced by taking a mild painkiller, such as paracetamol, before the injection. Your doctor can give you more advice.

The side effects are most noticeable with the first one or two injections, and they usually wear off after that. But the tiredness may continue.

We have more information about interferon alpha.

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Decisions about treatment

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

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy uses drugs to treat leukaemia. It is most commonly given as an injection into a vein or as tablets or capsules.

Clinical trials

Many people are offered a trial as part of treatment. Find out more to help you decide if a trial is right for you.