Within the categories of leukemia (ALL, AML, CLL, CML), treatment is similar, but treatment strategies do vary by category. Successful treatment consists of ablation of leukemia in the bone marrow and treatment or prevention of systemic disease, including infiltration of visceral sites.

CLL usually has a protracted, indolent course, and therefore is treated conservatively (treatment is deferred until the patient becomes symptomatic).

Splenectomy or splenic radiation is a consideration for splenomegaly due to infiltration by CLL.

Key words

Prophylaxis (prophylactic)

Administration of treatment in the absence of clinical symptoms to prevent the worsening of the condition; for example prophylactic CNS radiation to prevent CNS involvement, antibiotic prophylaxis to prevent infection

Sanctuary-site disease

Leukemia cells present in visceral organs, such as brain, central nervous system, or testes


Cancer-directed surgery is generally not performed for the treatment of leukemia. Surgery for leukemia is included with surgical treatment for "all other sites."

Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy to the central nervous system is prophylactic treatment to prevent or delay the occurrence of metastases from some varieties of leukemia. CNS radiation is not indicated for AML, but is important for ALL.

Involvement of single lymph node chains with CLL can be treated with radiation therapy.