What will happen after treatment for acute myeloid leukemia?
Completing treatment can be both stressful and exciting. You may be relieved to finish treatment, but find it hard not to worry about cancer coming back. (When cancer comes back after treatment, it is called recurrence.) This is a very common concern in people who have had cancer.
It may take a while before your fears lessen. But it may help to know that many cancer survivors have learned to live with this uncertainty and are living full lives. Our document called Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence, gives more detailed information on this.
Treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) can continue for months or years. Even after treatment ends, you will need frequent follow-up exams -- likely every few months for several years. It is very important to keep all follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctor will likely ask about symptoms, do physical exams, and order blood tests or bone marrow exams. Follow-up is needed to check for cancer recurrence, as well as possible side effects of certain treatments. Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks to months, but others can last the rest of your life. This is the time for you to talk to your cancer care team about any changes or problems you notice and any questions or concerns you have.
If the leukemia comes back, it is usually while the patient is being treated or shortly after they have finished chemotherapy. If this happens, treatment would be as described in the section called "What if the leukemia doesn't respond or comes back after treatment?" It is unusual for AML to return if there are still no signs of the disease within a few years after treatment.
It is important to keep health insurance. Tests and doctor visits cost a lot, and even though no one wants to think of their cancer coming back, this could happen.
Should your cancer come back, our document called When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence can give you information on how to manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer diagnosis and treatment, you may find yourself seeing a new doctor who does not know anything about your medical history. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Make sure you have this information handy:
- A copy of your pathology report(s) from any biopsies or surgeries
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report(s)
- If you were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that doctors prepare when patients are sent home
- If you had radiation therapy, a copy of the treatment summary
- If you had chemotherapy or other medicines, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
The doctor may want copies of this information for his records, but always keep copies for yourself.
Last Medical Review: 03/22/2012
Last Revised: 01/18/2013