Monitoring CLL Progression: How Long Can Watch and Wait Last?

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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients want to know how quickly and to what degree their condition will progress. How long do people typically stay in watch and wait? Is there anything CLL patients can do to prevent progression? Watch now to hear CLL experts Dr. Philip Thompson and Dr. Jackie Broadway-Duren, both from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, discuss research on factors that influence CLL progression.

This program is sponsored through a grant from AbbVie Inc., Gilead Sciences and TG Therapeutics. These organizations have no editorial control. It is produced solely by Patient Power in partnership with CLL Global Research Foundation.

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Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Andrew Schorr:

Jackie, how long can this watch and wait period go?  I have one friend in Seattle, he's been in watch and wait for the same 22 years that I've undergone treatment.  It's very variable, right? 

So one last question for Phil and then we're going to wrap up a little bit and we have a lot more CLL programs coming.  Joe, we got a question in and he asked it, Deborah said in the watch and wait is there anything I can do as a patient to slow progression? 

I do think they're kind of better to be formally studied in a clinical trial because a lot of chemotherapy drugs came from natural substances and it wasn't until they were kind of systematically studied that you worked out, A, how effective they are, and B, were there any unexpected side effects.  So we really don't know if we take a huge dose of green tea extract or turmeric, is it going to potentially have some side effects.  But I don't generally recommend for people take those things.  If people are already taking them I don't tell them that they have to stop unless they're having other treatment. 

I always tell people to exercise.  I think it's super important.  Right across oncology people, do better from cancer—cancer-associated outcomes if they're fit.  And I also think it's just good general advice.  I tell people to keep a good relationship with their primary care provider and get all of their regular health screening done because some people get so focused on their leukemia that they forget about everything else.  And I say, I've had to say to patients before I say, you know, you have all of these cardiac risk factors, you know.  I'm going to be really mad at you if I've cured your CLL and you die from a heart attack.  So I tell people to focus on all of those things. 

And then I--you know, a lot of people want to know is there a specific diet that I can eat that might be helpful, and it's a hard question to answer because there's a bit of a lack of systematic evidence.  But for example we have been trying to do a clinical trial for a number of years with an extract that you get from cruciferous vegetables like watercress.  It's called PEITC.  It has a very long name. 

But there are probably many things in our diet that can help prevent cancer, and I think that's been shown with vegetarians versus non-vegetarians and things like that, but once you actually have a cancer it's likely, it's hard to eat enough broccoli or enough watercress to get pharmaceutical amount of this stuff to actually do something significant to the disease.  But I do tell people I don't want you to eliminate food groups.  I want to you eat a generally healthy, balance diet and look after your weight because overall the prognosis from CLL is so good that you have to kind of continue to look after the rest of your health.  It's not a ticket to drinking a bottle of wine a night and a one-pound steak every night.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

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Page last updated on September 9, 2019