Nicole Lamanna, MD: For chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients, the era of these novel therapies has really transformed the disease. It is an exciting time, albeit, nobody wishes to have this type of cancer or any type of cancer or disorder. But it’s changed so dramatically. We’re not only improving the survival of patients with CLL. Their quality of life with treatments has improved dramatically with the novel agents as compared to the era of chemoimmunotherapy. Patient-reported outcomes with these therapies have been updated. There are a lot of data now, going 7 years, with some of the novel agents like ibrutinib. And so, the patient-reported outcomes are much, much better in terms of their quality of life and side effects of therapies. It is really a good time. There’s a lot going on.
I just want to give encouragement to patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. If you need support, there’s support available, whether it be talking to other patients with the disease, or there are patient forums, as well as your doctor. Be open about what you’re going through. It will help the doctor understand where you’re coming from. Bring friends or family members to appointments. We don’t expect you to, particularly during the first or second visit, hear everything we’re saying. And so, more than one session is often good because you just can’t get it all down.
If you like to read, read. The disease is very heterogenous. Oftentimes, patients are frightened by reading things online. “Is that me?” If you’re too nervous about seeing all of the data, bring questions. Or, don’t read. If there’s too much—it’s information overload—help your doctor navigate and figure out what type of patient you are so that they can best help you.
There’s a lot of exciting stuff going on. There are a lot of clinical trials going on. Hopefully, we can figure out better ways to not only eradicate the disease, but give people time off from their oral therapies. In fact, put people in deep remissions. Then, we hopefully do not need to treat them for years to come. So, stay tuned.