After getting diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, there are two phases of treatment a person has to go through, Dr. Richard Stone, Head of the Leukemia Program at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, tells SurvivorNet.
“Basically, there’s remission induction and then post-remission therapy,” Dr. Stone explains. “Two phases. Remission induction means we give people chemotherapy to take them from where they are at the time of diagnosis with many leukemic cells — often they’re not feeling very well, they may have some of these problems like fatigue, infection and bleeding.”
The goal with giving chemo in the remission induction phase is to reduce the number of leukemic cells (or leukemic burden) by 99% — essentially inducing a remission.
“Remission means … a state where we cannot detect the leukemic cells by standard means,” Dr. Stone says. “We do a bone marrow test — looks great. We do blood counts — they’re normal.”
The induction therapy phase typically lasts about a month, Dr. Stone says, noting there are seven days of chemotherapy in the beginning — and things like bone marrow and blood count should ideally start getting back to normal about a month after this therapy starts.
Which treatment route a person with AML will take depends on their overall health and their specific disease. There have been some pretty incredible breakthroughs in treatment options in recent decades.
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