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When Should I See a CLL Specialist?

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Published on February 21, 2020

Key Takeaways

  • Seeing a specialist and empowering yourself with knowledge can reduce stress, which has proven to be beneficial for cancer patients
  • If you have been diagnosed with CLL, there are two key points in the journey at which you should consult a specialist for help.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia experts Dr. Farrukh Awan and Dr. Philip Thompson answer an important question in this segment from our "Facing CLL Together" Town Meeting in Arlington, Texas—when is the right time to see a specialist? Dr. Awan, from UT Southwestern Medical Center, and Dr. Thompson, from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, also discuss the merits of seeing a specialist even if the patient chooses to be treated or monitored locally. Watch now to hear from two CLL experts.

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

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Transcript | When Should I See a CLL Specialist?

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:            
If I’m currently on watch and wait, if the patient’s on watch and wait, when is the right time to see a specialist? 

Dr. Awan:                  
I think again, we alluded to this earlier the biggest is like a lot of people have said, "Is this the big C word?" That’s when you’re the most anxious, and we know that stress is not good for you, and there’s been scientific studies done, and every cancer the stress with cancer is worse than cancer without stress. So, it’s as simple as that. So, we need to destress and with knowledge comes control and power, superpower, I really like that terminology, but understanding is superpower. I think if you understand the disease you really can help yourself, and I think going to a specialist at the time of diagnosis when you are anxious, when you are stressed is extremely important, in my opinion, and I agree with Philip, I agree with Nicole that maybe those testing can be delayed for the prognostic markers until you absolutely need it, completely agree with that. Maybe before treatment CT scans and bone marrows can be done at that point. But just by talking to somebody who does it for a living, I think it helps a lot of us. And then, in terms of—what was the—I guess the other part was...

Dr. Thompson:           
...when to see a specialist? Twice! When you’re diagnosed and before you get treated, don’t come and see the specialist after you’ve had three cycles of bendamustine (Treanda) and rituximab (Rituxan) and say, "Should I have done that?" Because we can—but in all seriousness, if you’re on watch and wait, it’s useful to see a specialist when you’re initially diagnosed so you can get all the information that you require. And then you—it may be fine to be monitored locally; but if you, then, are told, "Now is the time to be treated, you should come back to your specialist," because the answer may be, "Well, you don’t need treatment, we can continue to watch." Or the answer may be, "Well, yes, you do need treatment, but I would recommend something different."

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