Leukemia Patient Basics
Leukemia Patient Basics
Noam Z. Drazin (Hematologist & Oncologist, Cedars-Sinai Medical Group) gives expert video advice on: Should I see an oncologist or a leukemia specialist?; Are there any proven alternative methods for treating leukemia?; How can I find out more about leukemia? and more...
What questions should I ask my doctor after being diagnosed with leukemia?
I think the most important questions to ask of your physician once you are diagnosed with any malignancy and especially leukaemia is to sit down with them and discuss what the plan is going to be. I as a physician, always when unfortunately given the opportunity to give someone a diagnosis, usually have an entire plan of action already established. I think that provides patients with some reassurance that there is a plan of action. There is actually a treatment course that's been outlined or at least thought of to allow a patient to have some degree of understanding of what they are up against over the next several months or years, as it could be, depending on the diagnosis. So I think the best thing to ask is for a plan, a treatment plan and what to expect as a result of the treatment.
How often will I be tested for leukemia after remission?
Once patients achieve a remission and are undergoing further consolidation therapy and/or maintenance therapy for their leukaemia, they require periodic bone marrow biopsies and/or blood testing depending on their disease and depending on their disease status. So, I'm not able to personally give a particular regimen or follow up for all patients with leukaemia. The general rule of thumb is that in a patient with remission, you check bone marrow biopsies every six months, up to a total of two years, and then probably every year, up to a total of five years. When it comes to how often I see my patients when they've been diagnosed, and/or cured or in remission from leukaemia, I see patients every three months for the first two years once their chemotherapy or active chemotherapy is completed, then every six months to five years, and then yearly after that.
Should I see an oncologist or a leukemia specialist?
When diagnosed with leukemia, it's common to ask questions, whether or not you should see a specialist in the particular field? Hematologists and oncologists are already specialists in terms of treating cancer, but there are specific physicians that only treat leukemia, and are sometimes utilized on a consultative basis from community physicians who practice. I think in the best of both worlds, if you happen to be in an urban environment where you have large academic institutions, those might be the institutions you go to to get your treatment for leukemia. Because it's a little bit out of the scope of a primary oncologist or hematologist, who don't spend that much time in the hospital to treat a patient with acute leukemia.
Are there any proven alternative methods for treating leukemia?
To my knowledge, there are no alternative methods for treating leukaemia. There are definitely a significant number of testimonials and information on the Internet that identify alternative therapies for leukaemia, and herbal therapies for leukaemia and homeopathic-type remedies for the treatment of leukaemia. But I am an allopathic-trained, a Western-trained physician, I always utilize Western medicine first ,or in combination or co-operation with complementary-type approaches but don't utilize alternative approaches alone for the treatment of immunological malignancies such as leukaemia.
Will my insurance pay for a stem cell transplant?
Stem cell transplants are very expensive treatment modality for the treatment of acute leukemia, and most insurance companies, both managed care HMOs and managed care PPOs and of course Medicare, cover stem cell or bone marrow transplants. The difficulty lies in which particular institution they will allow you to have your transplant at. There are a lot of institutions that are contracted by particular providers to provide this particular therapy, and that will depend on your location in the country, the type of insurance and the type of leukemia that you have.