Although medical science has evolved significantly in the last decades, the treatment of leukemia is still a major issue in present. Modern medicine doesn’t hold the cure for leukemia and medical treatments available these days provide differentiated results. Survival rates depend on the promptitude of diagnosis, the type of treatment and the patients’ responsiveness to specific cancer therapies and treatments. Although leukemia can’t always be completely overcome, the progression of the disease can be slowed down and its malignant effects can be contained with the help of existent cancer treatments. Thus, the life expectancy of patients with leukemia has risen considerably in the last three decades. By contrast, the mortality rate registered among patients with leukemia has known a pronounced decrease in the last decade.
The treatment of leukemia is focused towards achieving a complete remission with minimal side-effects. Complete remission refers to absence of leukemia traces at cellular level. Patients who present no evidence of malignant cellular activity after completing the treatment of leukemia are considered to be completely cured. By contrast, relapse indicates a recurrence of leukemia specific symptoms and physiological signs.
In the case of patients with acute leukemia, a remission that lasts for more than five years after the treatment suggests a complete recovery. This five-year period is considered to be critical for leukemia sufferers, as it can make the difference between relapse and complete recovery.
In the last few decades, the five-year survival period of patients with leukemia has tripled. While in the 60’s the five-year survival rate was around 15 percent, nowadays it revolves around 50 percent. This five-year survival period is strongly influenced by patients’ age and the type of leukemia. Statistics indicate that the five-year survival rate for patients with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is around 60 percent, while the five-year survival rate for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is higher, reaching the value of 70 percent. By contrast, the prognosis of patients with myelogenous leukemia is less favorable. The same five-year survival rate for patients diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is around 14 percent, while an estimated 32 percent of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) exceed this five-year survival period.
The five-year survival rate for children diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia revolves around the value of 80 percent, while the overall survival rate of children with acute lymphocytic leukemia is less than 45 percent. This type of leukemia is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in children. Due to the fact that it predominantly affects young patients with ages between 3 and 15, the disease is referred to as childhood leukemia.
In the United States, the mortality rate for children with leukemia has decreased with 60 percent in the last three decades. In spite of this fact, leukemia is still the leading cause of death among young patients with ages under 15.