Cure: Is it Possible for CLL?

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Will the word "cure" be used for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)?

Will the word "cure" be used for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)? John C. Byrd, M.D., says he already uses the term, since many patients with CLL go 15 years or more without recurrences.

Byrd is the D. Warren Brown chair in Leukemia Research in the division of hematology at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center —James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute and was recently honored by CURE as a 2018 CLL Hero.

He admits that it might be another 15 or so years before we truly know if we're curing the disease, though we already may have the tools and treatments to do so. For patients who may not be able to be indefinitely disease free, new treatments are allowing them to live just as long as they would without CLL, Byrd explained.

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For patients with cancer, the ongoing chemotherapy shortage may cause some anxiety as they wonder how they will receive their drugs. However, measuring drugs “down to the minutiae of the milligrams” helped patients receive the drugs they needed, said Alison Tray. Tray is an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner and current vice president of ambulatory operations at Rutgers Cancer Institute in New Jersey.  If patients are concerned about getting their cancer drugs, Tray noted that having “an open conversation” between patients and providers is key.  “As a provider and a nurse myself, having that conversation, that reassurance and sharing the information is a two-way conversation,” she said. “So just knowing that we're taking care of you, we're going to make sure that you receive the care that you need is the key takeaway.” In June 2023, many patients were unable to receive certain chemotherapy drugs, such as carboplatin and cisplatin because of an ongoing shortage. By October 2023, experts saw an improvement, although the “ongoing crisis” remained.  READ MORE: Patients With Lung Cancer Face Unmet Needs During Drug Shortages “We’re really proud of the work that we could do and achieve that through a critical drug shortage,” Tray said. “None of our patients missed a dose of chemotherapy and we were able to provide that for them.” Tray sat down with CURE® during the 49th Annual Oncology Nursing Society Annual Congress to discuss the ongoing chemo shortage and how patients and care teams approached these challenges. Transcript: Particularly at Hartford HealthCare, when we established this infrastructure, our goal was to make sure that every patient would get the treatment that they need and require, utilizing the data that we have from ASCO guidelines to ensure that we're getting the optimal high-quality standard of care in a timely fashion that we didn't have to delay therapies. So, we were able to do that by going down to the minutiae of the milligrams on hand, particularly when we had a lot of critical drug shortages. So it was really creating that process to really ensure that every patient would get the treatment that they needed. For more news on cancer updates, research and education, don’t forget to subscribe to CURE®’s newsletters here.
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