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How leukemia staging differs from that of other cancers
Most types of cancer are staged to communicate the size of the tumor and how far the cancer has spread. But leukemia rarely causes tumors. Because it is in your bone marrow and blood, it has already spread throughout your body. With ALL, doctors use different terms to describe the response of the leukemia to treatment.
Phases of ALL:
Your doctor has just diagnosed you with ALL. Your complete blood count (CBC) is abnormal. You have more than 5% immature white blood cells, called blasts, in your bone marrow. You probably have symptoms of leukemia, such as pain, fever, and bleeding. You have not been treated except to ease these symptoms.
ALL in Remission
You have received treatment for ALL. During this phase, your CBC is normal, you have less than 5% blasts, and you have no signs or symptoms of leukemia anywhere in your body.
Minimal Residual Disease
Your ALL appears to be in remission, but very sensitive lab tests are still able to detect leukemia cells in the bone marrow. Your ALL may be more likely to relapse, so you may benefit from further treatment to try to kill the remaining cells.
The leukemia has not gone away and is not responding to treatment.
Relapsed ALL (also called Recurrent ALL)
Your leukemia has returned after a period of remission. Your symptoms may return, your CBC becomes abnormal again, and you have at least 5% blasts. Because you will have already undergone treatment, your doctor may need to consider a new treatment plan to bring you back into remission.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.