Hematologic Testing and CHR

When you're first diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) there are so many leukemia cells in your blood and bone marrow that your blood counts are abnormal. After starting treatment, most people have a decline in the number of leukemia cells.

Once you are on treatment it is important to keep track of your blood counts. Hematologic testing checks to see what your blood counts are and whether they are getting back to normal. A complete blood count (CBC) measures the numbers of different kinds of cells from a sample of your blood, including white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, and blast cells (the abnormal immature white blood cells that are characteristic
of leukemia).

Your doctor will want to have your blood tested at intervals to see if your counts are returning to normal. If you don't achieve a complete hematologic response (CHR), your oncologist may want to explore possible reasons with you.

You may have had only mild symptoms, or none at all when you were diagnosed. But being free of symptoms is one of the definitions of reaching a complete hematologic response (CHR).
It's a goal reached by most people who are treated for CML.

Hematologic Testing

Once you're diagnosed, a baseline complete blood count (CBC) is usually performed right away. After that, CBCs are done "on a regular basis." Here are the elements of a complete hematologic response (CHR):

Even after you reach a CHR your oncologist still needs to confirm that your treatment is working. This calls for more sensitive tests than a CBC.
WBC White blood cell count Back to normal
PLT Platelet count Back to normal
  Blast cells (abnormal immature WBCs—leukemia cells) None detected
  Spleen Normal size
  CML signs and symptoms None

This Web site is not meant to replace a discussion with your doctor, who is your most important source for information.

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