I just received some good news regarding recent tests.
Back on my post of February 7th, 2014, I talked about upcoming blood tests. The results are in now and the news is good.
If you want the short “Readers Digest” version, things have stabilized so I won’t need chemo for possibly another 4 years or longer. The doctor couldn’t guarantee this, things could change, but the chance looks good.
Now, for anyone interested in the long “Mitchener Novel” approach, I’ll go through each test one by one.
The first blessing was the doctor decided to do this blood test instead of a bone marrow biopsy – that saved me a lot of pain… Yay!
Metabolic panel: this was checked on Jan 14th 2014 (see my Score Card page). There was a slight dip downward in my white blood cell count and also a drop in my lymphocyte count, while my red blood cells and platelets remained within the normal range.
A quick note on lymphocytes: Lymphocytes in healthy people are there to help fight infection but in CLL patients abnormally high numbers of ineffective lymphocytes are found in the blood and/or bone marrow. A high lymphocyte count is a good indicator that Leuk is around. It is even a better indicator than just a white blood cell count. This is because lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell and so a high lymphocyte number gives a percentage relationship between them and the total number of white cells.
My doctor used a great metaphor to explain this: All burglars are human, but not all humans are burglars. So… cancerous lymphocytes (bad guys) are white cells, but not all white cells are bad guys.
Beta2 micro globulin (B2M): this was a test to check for any tumor markers. The result was negative (that’s a good thing).
Immunoglobulin (IgG): this checks for autoimmune disease. Also negative.
There was another test I didn’t mention in my February 7th post: Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) test. Yes, FISH test… but they were not looking for trout. As best I understand it, this is a chromosome/DNA test. Anyway, to save you a lot of incomprehensible jargon, my prognosis was favorable.
Bottom line: I will probably be avoiding chemo treatments for several years.
But the best news is, new research and treatments are rapidly developing. If I can stay stable for 4 years or so there may well be treatments better than chemo. Researchers my have found better ways to identify what treatments are best for specific patients. In other words, whereas chemotherapy is a “shotgun” approach to killing cancer cells, new treatments could identify exactly how to target the cell makeup of each patient’s individual blood structure.
At least that’s how this layman understands it all.