Your blood cancer is in remission when there is no sign of disease, usually as a result of treatment. The length of remission depends on individual circumstances.
- You may feel relieved and overjoyed at this point.
- It’s also normal to worry about recurrence during the first year after treatment.
- You may be required to continue on additional chemotherapy or receive further treatment even after achieving remission.
AT THIS STAGE, YOU CAN
- Talk to your doctor to determine if you require any post remission chemotherapy or treatment.
- Become informed about what kind of specific follow-up care and tests you will need.
- Manage any existing or new symptoms related to treatment with appropriate therapy.
- Return to your former activities, volunteer or return to work if permitted by your doctor.
HERE’S HOW YOU CAN LEARN MORE
- The goal of induction therapy is to "induce," or encourage, remission — when no evidence of the disease is left.
- Patients may have to go through several rounds, or cycles, of induction therapy before all the cancer cells are destroyed. Doctors know induction therapy is successful when they can't see cancer cells in blood or marrow. Patients also start to feel better. This is what's known as being in remission.
- Induction therapy is done in a hospital, where most patients will spend four to six weeks undergoing several cycles of chemotherapy. Generally, a cycle of chemotherapy consists of a week of receiving the drugs followed by several weeks to let the body recover. Patients who have a full-time caregiver and live near the treatment center may be discharged sooner, depending on the center's policies and the patient's health status.
Post-Remission or Consolidation Therapy
Once patients complete induction therapy and enter remission, they still need additional therapy. This second phase of treatment is called post-remission therapy, or consolidation therapy. Without this second step, the cancer will likely return.
Post-remission therapy includes chemotherapy and sometimes a stem cell transplant. Its purpose is to destroy the stray cancer cells not found by blood or marrow tests. Patients undergo post-remission therapy in the hospital or an outpatient setting over a period of four to six weeks, sometimes longer, depending on the type of blood cancer, post-remission treatment and its side effects.
To determine the type of post-remission therapy patients need, doctors consider:
- Overall health
- Certain types of changes to the genes in cancer cells
- The availability of a stem cell donor
Patients who don't undergo stem cell transplantation are generally given more cycles of chemotherapy.
Patients with some types of slow-growing or indolent blood cancers may continue treatment to stay in remission. This is called maintenance therapy.
(See specific blood cancer subtype for details on post-remission or consolidation therapies)