After my first successful chemotherapy regimen, I remember the meeting with my oncologist very well. My PET scan came back clear of disease. I was psyched. I was ready to celebrate! But my doctor was surprisingly guarded. Instead of using the word remission (the word I was saying over and over), she chose instead to tell me the scan showed no detectable disease. I remember doing a Scooby Doo internally. You know, a swivel of the head while exclaiming in ascending tones “HUH?” It was still great news, so I didn’t linger on it.
Turns out remission is a trickier thing when you’re dealing with a blood cancer. From a layperson’s simplistic perspective, I understand it like this. With most cancers, the disease is easy to locate. It’s in your liver, it’s in your lungs, it’s in your skin, it’s in your pancreas, etc. Or in later stage disease, it has metastasized to this organ or that one. When the diseased organ is your blood – which is literally everywhere in your body and circulating constantly – what then?
There are new technologies, new tests, and developing guidance in this area which is why the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) has posted a recent podcast in their Bloodline with LLS series on Minimal/Measurable Residual Disease. You can listen to the podcast episode at the link below.
“Join us as we speak to Dr. Lori Muffly and Dr. Matthew Frank from Stanford Medicine in Stanford, CA, about the recent advancements in testing for Minimal/Measurable Residual Disease (MRD). In this episode, we delve into what MRD is, which blood cancers testing is currently used on, and how we can utilize it to more accurately monitor patients and customize treatment. The doctors also share exciting possibilities on how MRD and other testing can benefit patients in the future.”