Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Some people who are diagnosed with CML manage their condition much like they would a chronic disease. This typically includes consistently being on some form of treatment, making and keeping follow-up doctor’s visits and communicating openly and honestly with their health care team.
Your doctors will monitor you closely through regularly scheduled appointments. During these visits, you will have exams and lab tests to look for physical signs of CML and to measure how well the CML is responding to current treatment. When your treatment is no longer working or is not as effective as it once was, your doctor may try another therapy.
You will also be monitored for treatment-related side effects. These follow-up visits are a good time to talk with your health care team about any changes or problems you notice and any questions or concerns you have. However, if you notice new symptoms or side effects in between follow-up appointments, be sure to contact your doctor.
Living with CML may affect your emotional well-being, causing you to feel anxious, worried or even depressed. Support is available to help you manage these emotions. Look within your community to family, friends and religious organizations, or ask your health care team for referrals to support organizations or professional counselors. Many organizations offer online and telephone options.
Stay on Schedule with Your Medications
For some patients, CML treatments are pills that can be taken orally from the convenience of home. Other treatments are given by injection or infusion at a cancer center or medical office. Regardless of how you receive your CML treatment, it is crucial to take it exactly as prescribed. This is known as medication adherence, and it is key to getting the intended benefit.
Not taking medication as intended is called nonadherence. Even people with the best intentions can forget a dose, take the wrong dose or miss a medical appointment, but it is very important to know that doing so may lead to worse overall outcomes, such as the medications being less effective, more side effects and a poorer quality of life.
Your prescription is designed specifically for you. Take it as your doctor intends to give your treatment plan the best chance for success. These suggestions may help:
- Read the entire medication label on the container to make sure you take the right dose.
- Take your pills at the same time every day, such as first thing in the morning or at the same meal time.
- Use a chart, calendar or reminders to set a schedule and to help you track when you take your medication. Download a free medication tracking sheet
- Use a weekly pill case so you know whether you’ve taken each day’s medication.
- Ask family members or friends to remind you.
Talk with your pharmacist or another member of your health care team about anything that affects your ability to take your medications, such as medication cost concerns, side effects that impact your daily life or confusion about how to take them. Be sure to review with your doctor or pharmacist any other medications, herbs or supplements you might be taking because they may interfere with the effectiveness of your CML treatment or increase the risk of serious side effects.