Utilizing clinical trials and understanding potential side effects and complications.
After chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) has been diagnosed, the follow-up schedule for patients depends on the stage of the disease and prognosis. Some patients live for decades without needing treatment, whereas others begin therapy after being diagnosed. In either case, doctors will continue to monitor kidney and liver function and watch for autoimmune complications, infections and other types of cancer.
Clinical trials allow patients with CLL to participate in controlled studies conducted by doctors to improve treatment. Patients and doctors looking for possibilities can search the website clinicaltrials.gov by topics such as disease type, drugs being studied and trial phase. Recent trials are investigating these new or improved drugs.
Therapy for CLL can produce side effects, which vary in intensity from patient to patient. Some people never experience them, whereas others require hospitalization for treatment-related problems. The side effects from monoclonal antibody therapy are usually milder than those from chemotherapy.
Before initiating treatment, talk to your doctor about potential side effects and how to prevent or manage them. Below are the common side effects of chemotherapy; these symptoms usually occur to a lesser extent with other treatments.
For patients with CLL, the disease also can lead to other conditions.
Although it is not yet clear if following a healthy lifestyle can decrease the chances that cancer will grow or come back, exercising, eating a nutritious diet and taking supplements can benefit health beyond the risk of CLL. Patients who are interested in using dietary supplements should talk to their doctor first. Remaining physically active and exercising to extent possible, even if for short periods of time can also help with conditioning, energy level, sleep and mood.