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How Will AML Treatment Affect Day-to-Day Life?

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Published on January 21, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Typically, people with AML are full-time patients for the first month of treatment.
  • Your doctor will determine next steps for treatment once you reach remission such as more chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant or a bone marrow transplant.
  • Sometimes patients are able to return to normal daily activities after they are in remission.   

Acute myeloid leukemia expert Dr. Gail Roboz from Weill Cornell Medicine sits down with Patient Power host and advocate Carol Preston to discuss how treatment can affect daily life and when patients typically start to return to their normal activities. Watch as Dr. Roboz describes the acute treatment phase for AML, remission and beyond.

This program is sponsored by AbbVie, Inc., Genentech, Inc. and Adaptive Biotechnologies. These organizations have no editorial control. It is produced by Patient Power. Patient Power is solely responsible for program content.

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Transcript | How Will AML Treatment Affect Day-to-Day Life?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Carol Preston:              

Let’s talk a little bit about daily life because whenever anybody is going through cancer, there is always that question of what should I do? What can I do? So, big question. How will treatment affect my daily life? Never mind the AML but from Mary, “Will I be able to work? Can I exercise?”

Dr. Roboz:                   

So, AML is separated into getting into remission and then what do you do after remission. So, remission is a definition. Remission means you’re reducing the percentage of abnormal leukemia blast cells in the bone marrow to less than five percent and you have normalization of your blood counts to 100,000 platelets and to a neutrophil or infection-fighting white blood cell count of 1,000. Depending on the regimen that you’re getting, most of the time it takes three, four, five weeks to get into remission. And during that period of time, you’re either in the hospital or you’re back and forth very frequently sometimes three times a week to the outpatient office and you are a full-time patient.

Generally, blood counts are low. You’re getting transfusions. You’re getting antibiotics. You might be doing this as an outpatient if you live really close to a center that has the ability to transfuse and see you frequently but otherwise, it’s an inpatient disease. So, that first month what I like to tell patients you’re kind of hostage. You’re not necessarily in the hospital, but you are a professional patient. If you get a fever, you’re rushing into the hospital. So, doing things that are normal life kind of things is really hard during that first period of time. Now, the goal is to get you into remission.

Remission is better. Blood counts are normal. You don’t have to be seen so frequently. How we keep you in remission is either a stem cell transplant or bone marrow transplant or more chemotherapy. So again, the impact to your daily life depends on what we’re going to be treating you with. But AML and the intensive treatment phases is a very difficult disease to kind of live life normally. Coming in, getting a quick chemo, and going back to work definitely in the acute treatment phase is going to be very difficult, if not impossible.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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