Treatment-free remission (TFR) – the safety of stopping treatment in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Jan Geissler, Co-founder of the CML Advocates Network, discusses the safety of stopping treatment in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), which was a dominant topic at the American Society of Hematology (ASH) Congress 2016 in San Diego, CA. He points out that this is very important from a patient advocacy perspective, and describes his own experience of stopping treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia which left him feeling very well. The first data from the EURO-SKI trial (NCT01596114) indicate that as many as 50% of CML patients in remission could safely stop treatment with different tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), a number of which were assessed in the study. However, patients who stop treatment will need life-long monitoring: in most patient in which stopping treatment fails, this usually happens within 6 months, however recurrences can also happen years later. The next step for the CML Advocates Network is to provide information on treatment-free remission (TFR) to patients and health care practitioners. Jan Geissler highlights that while stopping treatment is safe, it must be done following a very strict protocol and based on good quality polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis, and speaks about how he is worried about patients in whom treatment is stopped without appropriate measures and monitoring, who are likely to progress and may die as a result of stopping treatment.
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