Moving on after treatment for acute myeloid 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.
Treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) can continue for months or years. Even after treatment ends, you will need frequent follow-up exams -- probably every few months for several years. It is very important to go to all follow-up appointments. During these visits, your doctors will ask about symptoms, do physical exams, and order blood tests or bone marrow tests. Follow-up is needed to see if the leukemia has come back, as well as possible side effects of certain treatments.
If the cancer comes back, it usually does so while the patient is being treated or shortly after chemo is finished. If this happens, treatment would be as described in the section, "What if the leukemia doesn't respond or comes back after treatment?" 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, our document When Your Cancer Comes Back: Cancer Recurrence helps you manage and cope with this phase of your treatment.
Almost any cancer treatment can have side effects. Some may last for a few weeks or months, but others can be permanent. Please tell your cancer care team about any symptoms or side effects that bother you so they can help you manage them. Use this time to ask your health care team questions and discuss any concerns you might have.
It is also important to keep health insurance. While you hope your cancer won't come back, it could happen. If it does, you don't want to have to worry about paying for treatment.
Seeing a new doctor
At some point after your cancer is found and treated, you may find yourself in the office of a new doctor. It is important that you be able to give your new doctor the exact 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 were in the hospital, a copy of the discharge summary that the doctor wrote when you were sent home from the hospital
- 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 doctor may want copies of this information for his records, but always keep copies for yourself.
Last Medical Review: 06/27/2013
Last Revised: 02/07/2014