Monitoring CML Treatment Response
Symptoms don't tell the whole story. So it continues to be critical to watch your body's response to treatment during CML accelerated and blast phases.
Your doctor may order tests that were used to diagnose and monitor your disease during the CML chronic phase. They might include tests like these:
- Blood tests can measure your red cell, white cell, and platelet counts. This is the hematologic response.
- FISH tests, using blood or bone marrow, can measure the percent of CML cells that remain. This is the cytogenetic response. (FISH stands for fluorescent in situ hybridization.)
- PCR tests can measure how much the BCR-ABL gene has decreased. This is the molecular response. (PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction.)
"Monitoring is typically done with bone marrow until people get a complete cytogenetic response," Radich says. Then it may be possible to do tests using blood until a bone marrow transplant is completed.
Coping with CML Changes
This may be a scary time for you. When you're feeling sick with CML, it is especially important to get support. Lean on others -- depend on family members to pick up more of the tasks around the house. Keep a list of chores and when others offer to help -- even those outside the family -- take them up on it. You may also find it helpful to join a support group or to "talk" with others online who are going through similar challenges.
It's also important to understand what's happening with your treatment. "Try to educate yourself about the disease and the goals of therapy," Medeiros says. Before you meet with your doctor, do your research and write down your questions. When you meet with your doctor, take notes. Be sure to alert your doctor right away to any changes in your symptoms.
Know that everyone is different when dealing with challenging medical conditions. So tell your doctor how much you want to know about the CML accelerated or blast crisis phases of disease. But, remember, working closely with your doctors and following instructions is now more important than ever.