Combating Chronic Myeloid Leukemia With Improved Testing Accessibility

Combating Chronic Myeloid Leukemia With Improved Testing Accessibility

August 10, 2015

The latest research shows that early response to treatment and careful monitoring correlate with better overall survival rates in patients with CML (chronic myeloid leukemia). Now, new steps are being taken to help improve monitoring.

The latest research shows that early response to treatment and careful monitoring correlate with better overall survival rates in patients with CML (chronic myeloid leukemia). Now, new steps are being taken to help improve monitoring.  

Bristol-Myers Squibb Company recently announced a new charitable donation to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) to help patients pay for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.1

“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  DeGennaro, PhD, who is the president and CEO of LLS. “Research indicates that early response to treatment and careful monitoring correlate with better overall survival rates.”

The PCR test is the most sensitive testing method available and has the ability to detect a single cancerous cell among one million healthy cells. Current recommendations call for all CML patients to receive a PCR test every 3 months for the first 3 years after diagnosis, and every 3 to 6 months thereafter based on how well treatment is working. However, a major barrier to effective PCR screening has been its high price tag. The average cost of a PCR test is $345 and can be as high as $500 per test. The new program will assist insured and uninsured patients with out-of-pocket costs for PCR testing.

This new donation will also be used for more than just PCR testing. Part of the money from this program will fund national CML awareness activities, which will be setup at the LLS’s 56 chapters. “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, who is vice president and Head of US Medical for Bristol-Myers Squibb, Princeton, New Jersey. “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. Approximately 33,990 people in the US are living with CML and an estimated 5,980 new cases of CML were diagnosed in 2014, according to LLS.

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