Maintenance chemotherapy: What is it?

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Maintenance chemotherapy for leukemia: Does it prevent recurrence?

Question

What is maintenance chemotherapy? When and how is it used?

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Answer

Maintenance chemotherapy refers to the continued use of chemotherapy medications — for months or years — after cancer has gone into remission to reduce the risk of recurrence.

Maintenance chemotherapy was once commonly used in cases of leukemia and some types of lymphoma. But the practice is now used infrequently only for certain types of leukemia, specifically acute promyelocytic leukemia and acute lymphocytic leukemia. This is because in addition to causing undesirable side effects, maintenance chemotherapy did not improve remission or survival rates with other types of leukemia.

Last Updated: 05/10/2006
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