Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)

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What to Expect

Joyce Miner: ALL Survivor

ALL Survivor Joyce MinerSCCA patient Joyce Miner was treated for her Philadelphia chromosome–positive ALL with chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. She has been in remission for more than five years. Read Joyce’s story.

A diagnosis of cancer can feel overwhelming. We have an experienced, compassionate team ready to help you. At Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) we view treatment as a collaborative effort, with the goal of turning cancer patients like you into survivors.

Personal Care Team

Every SCCA patient with leukemia has a personal team that includes an oncologist, nurse case manager, and team coordinator. Additional specialists, such as a social worker, physical therapist, nutritionist, or radiation oncologist, may be involved, if you need them.

Before your first visit, the team typically will have reviewed your pathology slides (tissue samples from any biopsies) and any scans or tests you have already had. If you do not live in or near Seattle, we may ask your referring doctor to arrange for additional tests or scans so that these results are available before your appointment at SCCA.

Your First Visit

If you have been referred to SCCA with a diagnosis of ALL, and your doctors determine you need to start treatment right away, you will most likely be sent to our inpatient unit at University of Washington Medical Center. Otherwise, your first visit will be at the SCCA outpatient clinic on Lake Union. You may also self-refer. To find out about making an appointment, call the Patient Intake Office at (206) 288-SCCA (7222).

During your first visit to SCCA, you will meet with your doctor, who will ask you questions about your medical history and your current problem. This will be followed by a physical exam. Then you will sit down for a conference with your doctor and other members of your team to discuss a treatment plan.

This visit usually lasts one to two hours. We recommend that you bring a friend or family member with you to your appointment for emotional support and to help you keep track of the information your team will be giving you.

Treatment

All leukemias are not the same. The treatment that a friend or relative received may not be the best treatment for you. There are several types of leukemia, and treatment plans are different for each one. As the pace of medical breakthroughs accelerates, so does our ability to target therapies to your individual biology and the genetic signature of your disease. Cancer patients seeking the most advanced treatments for leukemia will find a broad range of options available through SCCA. Your health care team will explain your options and recommend treatments that are most likely to help you.

Most people with ALL are initially treated in the hospital. Depending on your first course of treatment (induction therapy) and the time required to recover from this treatment, you may start out by spending a week or more in the hospital. Read more about the phases of treatment for ALL.

Follow-Up

After treatment, you will need to visit your doctor on a regular basis to check your health. During these visits your doctor will give you a physical exam and may do tests to look for signs of cancer. Your doctor will talk with you about the follow-up schedule and steps towards health maintenance that are right for you. You may be referred to the SCCA Survivorship Clinic for follow-up to help maximize your overall health. If you had a bone marrow transplant, SCCA provides lifelong support through the Long-Term Follow-Up Program.