Cancer treatment can be complex, but these pages will describe your options in easy-to-understand terms. You will learn about choosing a blood cancer specialist, understanding lab and imaging tests, making treatment decisions, managing side effects, when to consider complementary and alternative therapies, and more.
We’re Here to Help. Our Information Specialists are available to help guide you through your journey.
In this Section:
Your Treatment Team
Oncologists and hematologists are specialists who treat persons with leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative diseases. Pediatric hematologist oncologists treat children, adolescents and some young adults who have blood cancers.
Choosing a Blood Cancer Specialist or a Treatment Center
Taking an active role in making decisions regarding your treatment can have a positive effect on your health and quality of life. One of your first choices as an active participant in your care is to either select a specialist to manage your treatment or to choose a treatment center.
Communicating with Your Specialist
Communication with your specialist and the team coordinating your care is very important. Tell your doctor how much you want to know about your diagnosis, treatment options and test results so you can function together as a team. Some people want to know every detail. Others want to know only the basics and trust their doctor to choose the most appropriate treatment.
Understanding Blood, Marrow and the Lymphatic System
Understanding your diagnosis will help you make informed decisions about your treatment, and give you a greater understanding of the scientific advances in blood cancer treatment and improvements in quality of life for survivors.
Lab and Imaging Tests
Doctors use several different lab and imaging tests to help detect (diagnose) a blood cancer (leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma, myelodysplastic syndromes or myeloproliferative disease). You may need to undergo additional tests to confirm your diagnosis.
Making Treatment Decisions
Adults living with blood cancer must make decisions about treatment, family, work or school and finances. If your child has been diagnosed, you must make similar decisions for your son or daughter. Gathering Information and Support
Types of Treatment
Many factors will determine your treatment regimen. After considering the factors, your doctor will recommend one or more treatment options.
Managing Side Effects
Work closely with your doctor and cancer care team to prepare yourself with information about what to expect and how to cope with side effects. For some patients, side effects may last well after treatment is completed or may be permanent. For most patients, side effects are temporary and go away when the body adjusts to therapy or once treatment ends.
Flu Shots and Immunizations
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends seasonal influenza (flu) shots for cancer patients and survivors and anyone who has contact with a cancer patient. Unless contraindicated by your oncologist, LLS encourages blood cancer patients and survivors to get their flu shot every year.
Integrative Medicine and Complementary Therapies
IM combines standard medicine (such as surgery, chemotherapy, drug therapy and radiation therapy) with safe and effective complementary therapies. Complementary therapies don’t replace your cancer treatment or care; they supplement your care by boosting well-being without interfering with standard treatments.
Follow-Up Care and Survivorship
After you're in remission or your disease is under control, regular follow-up care is critically important. You'll need to visit your doctor for regular follow-up care. He or she monitors your health and looks for signs that you may need more treatment. Your doctor will also speak with you about monitoring for long-term effects or late effects.