Helping Patients Navigate a New Diagnosis of CML

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Patient-provider conversations are vital to promote the best care for chronic myeloid leukemia, a patient advocate said.

Encouraging patients to ask questions about their chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) diagnosis may help them not only understand the disease, but also decide upon the best treatment plan, a patient advocate explained.

Claire Saxton, the executive vice president of Insights and Impact at Cancer Support Community, met with Oncology Nursing News at the 2024 ASCO Annual Meeting to discuss the importance of patient-provider communication—and that includes ensuring patients understand the responses their clinicians give them.

“The important thing is for you to slowly understand everything well enough so that you can actually be an active part of your treatment team and help decide what treatments are best,” she said.

Transcript:

It's really overwhelming when you're first diagnosed with CML. People get the strangest explanations of what CML cancer is, including, "It's a good cancer," which no cancer is a good cancer. It's a cancer that's very treatable, but you're going to have to be treated for the rest of your life.

And so, one question to ask [the health care team] is, "How many CML patients have you treated?" because it's best to get with a provider who has an understanding of the most recent advances in CML treatment. Another thing to ask your provider is, "Is there anything particular about my CML that would make one treatment a better option for me than another? Furthermore, is there a clinical trial that's right for me?" Because in CML right now, there are some exciting trials to be looking at for your treatment.

So those are all big things to be asking at a time when you're very overwhelmed, but also ask every question that comes to mind. There are no stupid questions. If you don't understand the answer, ask it again. If you're a visual person, ask to write it down or draw it out, because the important thing is this is a marathon to get through. So, the important thing is for you to slowly understand everything well enough so that you can actually be an active part of your treatment team and help decide what treatments are best.

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