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Supportive & Other Therapies

What are Supportive Therapies?

Supportive therapies are treatments that help to control any symptoms or complications caused by CLL or its treatment.

Supportive therapies may include:

IVIGs (infusion of immunoglobulins)

IVIG Infusion Therapy

This involves the administration of medication through a needle or catheter.

It is given when a patient’s condition cannot be treated with oral medicine. Typically, infusion therapy means that a drug is given intravenously (IV) in a catheter that is in your vein, but the term also may refer to situations where drug is being administered subcutaneously under the skin.

Infusion therapy helps prevent recurrent infections, and can enhance your overall health and can provide you with treatment that can be life-sustaining.

IVIG generally takes about 3 hours for the infusion to be completed. This estimate only includes the time that it takes for the medication to go into your body; it will take additional time to prepare supplies and medications and to place the IV catheter. If your body reacts to the infusion, it will take longer.

Intervals between infusions often range between days to weeks.

Most infusion medications are not painful to receive. The placement of the IV catheter may feel painful to some people.

Side effects can develop with any intravenous infusion. Severe adverse events can occur but are rare. Some side effects can be reduced by pre-medication with certain medicines.

With IVIG, you may develop a headache during or after your infusion. Some people also feel cold during the infusion and often ask for a blanket. You may also feel more tired or have muscle aches or fever after your infusion and need to rest for a day before feeling like your usual self. Other potential side effects exist, but these events represent the most common ones.

Please talk to your consultant or nurse specialist about aspect of IVIGs that you are unclear or any aspects you are concerned about your infusion.


Transfusions of red blood cells and platelets (if your bone marrow isn’t making enough), fresh frozen plasma, and cryoprecipitate (a product that replaces clotting factors) as needed.

Antibiotics, antivirals or antifungals

Antibiotics, antivirals or antifungals to prevent or fight infections

Growth Factors

Growth factors to help the bone marrow recover from chemotherapy .

Chemotherapy can affect the bone marrow so it doesn’t make enough healthy blood cells, which can increase the risk for infection.


Leukapheresis removes large numbers of white blood cells from the blood.

This procedure uses a special machine (pheresis machine) to separate and collect specific white blood cells from withdrawn blood. The remaining blood is then returned to the body.


Surgery may be offered to remove the spleen (called a splenectomy). It can improve red blood cell or platelet counts. It can also relieve discomfort when the enlarged spleen puts pressure on other organs.

Radiation therapy

A low-dose external beam radiation therapy may be offered for relapsed or refractory CLL. It is used to shrink an enlarged spleen or swollen lymph nodes in one area of the body.

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