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I've Been Diagnosed With Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): What Happens Now?

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Published on March 15, 2016

At the stage of diagnosis, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients often have to be hospitalized, due to the severe symptoms presented. Dr. Charles Craddock of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK, describes next steps, which start with a conversation with a consultant and a clinical nurse specialist regarding the diagnosis, treatment options and long-term consequences and outcomes of this disease.

Recorded at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) 2015 Annual Meeting in Orlando, FL.

This programme has been supported by Pfizer, through an unrestricted educational grant to the Patient Empowerment Foundation

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Transcript | I've Been Diagnosed With Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): What Happens Now?

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I think it’s important to understand that quite often patients with acute myeloid leukemia present with the symptoms I’ve referred to, and they may present with the sort of bleeding or infection or shortness of breath that requires hospitalisation.  So often a diagnosis is made whilst patients are in hospital.  And patients then will, once the diagnosis has been confirmed, have a frank conversation with their consultant and also with a clinical nurse specialist, or ward nurse.  And that discussion will address important issues such as what is the diagnosis, and how can it be treated, and what are the long-term consequences and outcomes?

Often this is an enormous amount of information to take in, and of course really one would want that conversation to happen not just with the patient but with their close family.  So if a patient receives that information on the ward then it’s often good practice for the nurse to stay behind, and the doctor and nurse will want to come back and have another conversation with the patient either that day or the next day to confirm that patients understand everything that’s been told, and also understand that in most cases there is a requirement to move quite quickly towards treatment.

Now there are circumstances where you delay the institution of treatment whilst you await further results, or there are other situations where you need to get on and treat that day as a matter of urgency.  Alternatively you’re right that sometimes this diagnosis is made as a result of routine blood tests and it’s made in the outpatients.  And again, one would want after the conversation has been had with patients, if they were really well and there was felt to be no urgency about admitting them for treatment, which is quite unusual actually, you’d want to be seeing that patient again the next day to monitor their progress.  But it would be very likely, if treatment was indicated, certainly in younger patients, that they would need to be admitted to hospital quite soon.