When you were first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, your doctor probably noticed that your white count, the cells that fight infection, were extremely high and shortly after starting your medications you saw that got better, and you thought, “Hey, I am doing great.” Well, there is more to it. In CML, we want to look at the Philadelphia chromosome gene protein known as BCR-ABL because if that suppresses then you can become a long-term survivor. So, your doctor will do a blood test called a PCR every 3 to 4 months to see that you are responding to your treatment. If those numbers are going down, good for you, outcome is great. But sometimes, even when you are taking the medications, the gene protein starts to go up, and we get nervous that maybe the drug is stopping working. The doctor may then order a mutational study to help determine why the medication is no longer working and to help the doctor figure out which might be the best next medication.
MediCom Worldwide, Inc. acknowledges the collaborative support from The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
www.LLS.org/CML - CML webpage with links to resources
www.LLS.org/booklets - Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (booklet) and Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Guide(easier to read booklet)
www.LLS.org/PCR - Financial Assistance for PCR test
www.LLS.org/educationvideos - Two videos - CML: The Role of PCR Testing and Resistant Myeloid Leukemia
www.myPCR.org - Coalition of CML-focused organizations provides information about PCR, campaign to increase awareness of the need to monitor CML treatment, and resources for patients.