After treatment for CML

Older man and woman

What follow-up do I need?

Once treatment is over and you are in remission, you will carry on taking TKIs. You will need to go back to hospital for regular check-ups. This is called follow-up. Your doctor will examine you and do blood tests. Other tests such as bone marrow tests and cytogenetic tests can be arranged if needed.

Your doctor will look at the number of blast cells in your blood and the number of cells with the Philadelphia chromosome or the BCR-ABL gene. Depending on the results of your tests, sometimes the doctor will give you a different drug or change your dosage.

Tell your doctor if there are any changes in your body or any new symptoms. You will probably have more bone marrow tests to make sure you are still in remission.

It’s important to go to your follow-up appointments, even if you feel well and have no symptoms. The tests you will have can spot any changes in your condition before symptoms develop.

Sometimes you may need to go to hospital if you get an infection, as your immune system takes time to recover.

If you’re between check-ups and have a symptom or problem that is worrying you, call your specialist nurse for advice or to arrange an earlier outpatient appointment, if necessary.

If you become suddenly unwell and can’t contact your specialist nurse or hospital team, go to your GP or the accident and emergency department at the hospital.

What if the CML comes back?

If the leukaemia cells come back after being treated it’s called a relapse. A relapse can happen during or soon after treatment, or months or years later. 

Your doctor can decide if you have a low, moderate or high risk of relapsing. This is based on your white cell count at diagnosis and your response to your first treatment.

Relapse while on treatment: The reason you relapse while on treatment may be because the disease has become resistant to the drugs being used. This is known as refractory disease. In this case, other drugs that work well in leukaemia will be given to you. A stem cell transplant might also be considered as a treatment for some patients.

Relapse after treatment: If you relapse some time after treatment, you might have the same chemotherapy drugs you were first treated with, as you responded well to them. More treatment may or may not include a stem cell transplant.

Feelings after treatment

It can take some time to come to terms with a cancer diagnosis, even after your treatment has ended. Read about feelings after treatment and where to get support.

Living with a blood cancer

Although many people with chronic leukaemia can live a normal life, for others, living with leukaemia and its symptoms can be challenging. We have some tips to help you to avoid unnecessary complications and stay as well as possible. 

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