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Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL): Status After Treatment 

During and after treatment for acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), you’ll have tests. These tests are to check your blood and bone marrow for leukemia cells. This is to see how well treatment is working, or to look for signs that the leukemia might have come back. 

Terms you may hear

 Depending on how well treatment works, your ALL might be described with one of these terms: 

In remission (complete remission)

This means:

  • There is no sign of the leukemia after treatment.

  • Your blood counts have returned to normal.

  • You have less than 5% immature cells (blasts) in your bone marrow.

Sometimes the term complete molecular remission or complete molecular response is used. This means that leukemia cells cannot be found in the bone marrow even with very sensitive lab tests. 

Being in remission doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cured. A remission may be permanent, meaning the cancer is cured. But a remission may also be temporary. 

Minimal residual disease (MRD)

Your ALL appears to be in remission, but very sensitive lab tests are still able to find leukemia cells in the bone marrow. Your ALL may be more likely to come back (relapse). You may benefit from more treatment to try to kill the remaining cells.

Refractory ALL

The leukemia has not gone away and is not responding to treatment. 

Relapsed (recurrent) ALL

Your leukemia has returned after a period of remission. Your blood counts may be abnormal again or blasts have reappeared in your bone marrow. Your doctor will discuss your treatment options to get your leukemia back into remission.

Working with your healthcare provider

Treating cancer is a process. You and your healthcare provider will work together to find the treatments that work best for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: LoCicero, Richard, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Stump-Sutliff, Kim, RN, MSN, AOCNS
Date Last Reviewed: 5/1/2018
© 2021 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.
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