Follow-up after treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Follow-up after treatment is an important part of cancer care. Follow-up for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is often shared among the cancer specialists (oncologists or hematologists) and your family doctor. Your healthcare team will work with you to decide on follow-up care to meet your needs.
Don’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to report any new symptoms and symptoms that don’t go away. Tell your healthcare team if you have:
- a general feeling of discomfort or illness (called malaise)
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- bleeding or bruising
- frequent infections
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Follow-up visits for CLL are usually scheduled for many years after treatment even if there are no signs of the disease. The appointments will be less often as time goes by, but you will need to see your doctor regularly for a long period of time.
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During a follow-up visit, your healthcare team will usually ask questions about the side effects of treatment and how you’re coping.
Your doctor may do a physical exam, which can include:
- measuring vital signs for fever, shortness of breath and rapid heartbeat
- checking the skin for bruising and paleness
- feeling areas of the neck, underarm and groin for any swollen or enlarged lymph nodes
- looking in the mouth for signs of infection, bleeding or swollen gums
- feeling the abdomen for enlarged organs
- checking the skeleton for tenderness or pain
Tests are often part of follow-up care. You may have:
- complete blood count (CBC) to check for abnormal blood cell counts
- blood chemistry tests to show how well certain organs are working and find problems caused by the spread of leukemia cells, or blasts
- imaging tests, such as chest x-ray, CT scan, MRI or ultrasound, to get helpful information about the spleen, liver or lymph nodes
- bone marrow aspiration and biopsy to follow up after the results of the blood tests or if new symptoms develop
If a recurrence is found, your healthcare team will assess you to determine the best treatment options.
Find out more about these tests and procedures.
American Cancer Society. Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society; 2013: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003111-pdf.pdf.
American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic - CLL: After Treatment. Alexandria, VA.: American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO); 2014: http://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/leukemia-chronic-lymphocytic-cll/after-treatment.
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Follow-Up Care. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society; 2011.