There are several risk factors that can affect the likelihood of relapse. Some patients with “good-risk” disease (such as patients with younger age, chromosome abnormalities in leukemia cells that predict for better response to treatment, good health otherwise) can have significantly longer remission after completing induction and post-induction chemotherapy; 5-year survival rates can be over 50%.
For patients who have “poor-risk” disease (such as complex chromosomal abnormalities in their leukemia cells, preceding bone marrow problems, leukemia related to prior therapy, elderly patients) will have much shorter duration of remission.
Unfortunately, the majority of patients do relapse within the first 1-2 years. When relapse occurs, the disease tends to become more aggressive and less responsive to chemotherapy. Even if it responds to further chemotherapy, the subsequent duration of remission is never as long as with the first remission. The only curative treatment is bone marrow transplant (allogeneic stem cell transplant).
There is extensive research going on in this area now. We are committed and continuing to search for more effective therapies that are going to last longer in our patients. I would encourage all patients with leukemia to consider enrollment in clinical trials.
Take care, Ashley77738, and hope this was helpful. Please do let me know if there are other questions I can help with.
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