Friday, July 26, 2013

Understanding remission

Remission is a confusing word with leukemia because it doesn't actually mean what it sounds like... Remission after induction treatment does not mean cured. I think that my previous post about Watts being in remission was a little confusing for people so I wanted to clarify some things.

With leukemia, remission after the first phase of treatment means that chemotherapy has reduced the number of detectable leukemia cells (I read somewhere that it brings the numbers from the billions down to the millions) and has returned blood counts to normal. It is the goal of the first round of chemotherapy---I think I remember the doctors saying that somewhere around 90% of leukemia patients achieve remission of the first phase of chemotherapy. Remission is the expectation of treatment, it seems, rather than the exception. It is a good, good thing, but remission does not mean that treatment has changed in any way, that Watts is cured, that all leukemia cells are gone, or that Watts won't relapse.

It is a something to celebrate while keeping it all in perspective... once again, this is a long road.
I'm so sorry if I was confusing about this before.


  1. Am I right that, at the end of the chemo treatment (in two years, or whatever), a long enough period of remission DOES mean cured? Say, five years in remission means cured? Or am I wrong about that...?

  2. Oh Hannah... My heart is so weary for you & this road you are all on... I continually pray for all 4 of you, each in different little ways. Much love, Lauren

  3. I was talking specifically about initial remission (after first chemo phase), but being permanently "cured" of leukemia is also a confusing. Here is what one resource said, "With acute leukemias, children who are free of disease after 5 years are very likely to have been cured, as it very rare for these cancers to return after such a period of time." It may be different with babies, though, but I haven't asked. One step at a time. We intentionally don't tend to think past the next month or so.

  4. Thank you, sweet Lauren! Still need to meet your little man.


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