A donation from Bristol-Myers Squibb Company to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) will provide financial assistance for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients who need help paying for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing, an important tool used in the diagnosis and monitoring of CML. The donation will also support LLS CML awareness activities focused on educating patients, caregivers and healthcare providers about the importance of continued monitoring with PCR testing.
“Routine PCR testing is critical because oncologists rely on the results to determine their patients’ clinical status of early and ongoing response to CML treatment and to help detect when patients are potentially becoming resistant to treatment, which may allow for earlier intervention,” said Louis J. DeGennaro, LLS’s president and CEO. “Research indicates that early response to treatment and careful monitoring correlate with better overall survival rates.”
The PCR test is used both in the diagnosis of CML and to monitor for cancerous cells after treatment has begun. It is the most sensitive testing method available, with the ability to detect a single cancerous cell among one million healthy cells. Recommendations suggest that a CML patient should receive a PCR test every three months for the first three years after diagnosis, and every three to six months thereafter based on how well their treatment is working. The average cost of a PCR test is $345 and can be as high as $500 per test. The program will assist insured and uninsured patients with out-of-pocket costs for PCR testing. The donation will also fund national CML awareness activities that will be undertaken by LLS’s 56 chapters, as well as grassroots efforts through local networks of patients, volunteers and healthcare institutions.
“With the life expectancy of more CML patients increasing, the need for routine PCR testing is very important to ensure optimal treatment results,” said Laura Bessen, MD, vice president, head of U.S. Medical, Bristol-Myers Squibb. “Bristol-Myers Squibb is committed to helping patients living with CML have access to this important test and to also help patients better understand why the testing is important for their long-term prognosis.” LLS will also partner with The Max Foundation, Cancer Support Community and the National CML Society to facilitate ongoing promotion and awareness about the PCR Financial Assistance and Awareness Program.
To find out more about the PCR Financial Assistance and Awareness Program or to apply, call LLS at (877) 614-9242 or visit www.LLS.org/PCR