"Remission" is a word you may have heard when discussing cancer. You may even have heard the word used when talking about chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Talking about remission in connection with CML can be misleading if you interpret it the same way as with some other forms of cancer, where once a patient is free of all evidence of cancer, treatment is discontinued. In other cancers, the patient is simply monitored over time to make sure the cancer doesn't return. In the case of CML, "remission" does not mean that you have been cured. Patients with CML and their doctors are more likely to talk about their specific hematologic, cytogenetic, and molecular responses than to talk about remission.
For instance, your doctor may say you are in "hematologic remission" which means you have achieved a complete hematologic response (CHR). Your doctor may say you are in cytogenetic remission, which means you have achieved a complete cytogenetic response (CCyR). If your doctor says you are in molecular remission, this means you have achieved a complete molecular response (CMR).
When tests show no sign of CML
It's important to keep in mind that CML is a chronic disease, and even a complete molecular response doesn't mean the disease is cured. A complete molecular remission means that no BCR-ABL transcripts, or signals, were detected (sometimes referred to as PCR-undetectable, or PCR-U). This doesn't mean you're cured. Even molecular tests, the most sensitive tests available for CML, are not sensitive enough to detect very low levels of these signals.
The consensus among healthcare professionals is that ongoing treatment for most CML patients should