Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): Status After Treatment

During and after treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), you’ll have tests. These tests are to check your blood and bone marrow for leukemia cells. This helps see how well treatment is working. The tests are also used to watch for signs that the leukemia might have come back. 

Terms you may hear

Depending on how well treatment works, your AML might be described with one of these terms: 

In remission (complete remission)

This means:

  • There are no signs of the leukemia after treatment.

  • Your blood counts have returned to normal.

  • You have fewer than 5% immature cells (blasts) in your bone marrow. 

Sometimes the terms complete molecular remission or complete molecular response is used. This means that leukemia cells cannot be found in the bone marrow even with very sensitive lab tests. You might also hear the term no evidence of disease.

Being in remission doesn’t necessarily mean you’re cured. A remission may be long-lasting (permanent). But a remission may also be short-term (temporary). 

Minimal residual disease

Your AML seems to be in remission. But very sensitive lab tests are still able to find leukemia cells in the bone marrow. Your AML may be more likely to come back (relapse). This means you may benefit from more treatment to try to kill the remaining AML cells.

Refractory AML

The leukemia has not remained in complete remission and has not responded to two cycles of initial (induction) chemotherapy. 

Relapsed (recurrent) AML

Your leukemia has returned after a period of remission. Your blood counts may be abnormal again. Your healthcare provider will discuss your treatment choices to try to get the leukemia back into remission.

Working with your healthcare provider

Treating AML is a process. You and your healthcare provider will work together to find the treatments that work best for you.

Online Medical Reviewer: Amy Finke RN BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Jessica Gotwals RN BSN MPH
Online Medical Reviewer: Todd Gersten MD
Date Last Reviewed: 6/1/2023
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