For some people with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), treatment can destroy the leukemia. It can feel good to be done with treatment, but it can also be stressful. You might find that you now worry about the cancer coming back. This is a very common concern among those who have had cancer. (When cancer comes back, it is called a recurrence.)
It may take a while before your recovery begins to feel real and your fears are somewhat relieved. You can learn more about what to look for and how to learn to live with the chance of cancer coming back in Living With Uncertainty: The Fear of Cancer Recurrence.
For some people, the leukemia may never go away completely. These people may get regular treatments to try to keep the leukemia under control and help relieve symptoms from it. Learning to live with leukemia that does not go away can be hard. It has its own type of uncertainty. See When Cancer Doesn’t Go Away for more about this.
Treatment for AML can last for months or years. Even after treatment ends, you will need frequent follow-up exams – probably every few months for several years. It’s very important to go to all follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, examine you, and get blood tests or bone marrow tests.
If the leukemia comes back, it usually does so while you are still being treated or shortly after chemo is finished. But it is unusual for AML to return if there are no signs of the disease a few years after treatment.
Should your cancer come back, see When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence for information to help you manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a short time, but others can be permanent. Tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them.
It’s also very 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.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your treatment, you may be seeing a new doctor. It’s important to be able to give your new doctor the details of your diagnosis and treatment. Gathering these details soon after treatment may be easier than trying to get them at some point in the future. Make sure you have this information handy (and always keep copies for yourself):
- A copy of your pathology report from any biopsy or surgery
- If you had surgery, a copy of your operative report
- If you stayed in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that the doctor wrote when you were sent home
- If you had radiation treatment, a copy of the treatment summary
- If you had chemotherapy or other drugs, a list of your drugs, drug doses, and when you took them
- The names and contact information of the doctors who treated your cancer
Last Revised: 02/22/2016