If treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia stops working
When a person has had many different treatments and the cancer has not been cured, over time the cancer tends to resist all treatment. At this time you may have to weigh the possible benefits of a new treatment against the downsides, like treatment side effects and clinic visits.
This is likely to be the hardest time in your battle with cancer − when you have tried everything within reason and it's just not working anymore. Your doctor may offer you new treatment, but you will need to talk about whether the treatment is likely to improve your health or change your outlook for survival.
No matter what you decide to do, it is important for you to feel as good as possible. Make sure you are asking for and getting treatment for pain, nausea, or any other problems you may have. This type of treatment is called palliative treatment. It helps relieve symptoms but is not meant to cure the cancer. You can learn more about the changes that occur when curative treatment stops working, and about planning ahead for yourself and your family, in our documents called Nearing the End of Life and Advance Directives. You can read them online or call us to have free copies mailed to you.
At some point you may want to think about hospice care. Most of the time it is given at home. Your cancer may be causing symptoms or problems that need to be treated. Hospice focuses on your comfort. You should know that having hospice care doesn't mean you can't have treatment for the problems caused by your cancer or other health issues. It just means that the purpose of your care is to help you live life as fully as possible and to feel as well as you can.
You can learn more about this in our document Hospice Care.
Last Medical Review: 08/05/2013
Last Revised: 11/04/2014