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PCR Results Explained

 

What is an RQ-PCR test?

An RQ-PCR test is a simple blood test that measures the number of Ph+ CML cells in your blood.3 It is an important test to perform because it is very sensitive. It can detect 1 Ph+ CML cell out of 100,000 cells, so it can detect very low numbers of remaining Ph+ CML cells.3 Remember, the lower the amount of Ph+ CML cells left in the blood, the less chance there is for Ph+ CML to relapse and progress.4-6 Therefore, this test will help us know how well your treatment is working and help us make better decisions about your care.

What is a log drop?

An RQ-PCR test measures the number of Ph+ CML cells in your blood. The way it counts the decrease of cells is in terms of a log drop or log reduction.4 Each log reduction means you have 10 times fewer BCR-ABL genes than you had at diagnosis.7 For example, a 1 log reduction is the same as dividing the number of Ph+ cells you have at diagnosis by 10. Ultimately, what is most important is that the trend of your log reductions continues to decrease over time until you reach a major molecular response, which is equivalent to a 3-log reduction (or 0.1% BCR-ABL to control gene ratio on the international scale).4 Results from 2 landmark studies show that patients who have a major molecular response have a much better chance of remaining free from disease progression, or relapse.8,9This means their Ph+ CML cells didn’t increase for a long period of time.

When should I get a RQ-PCR test?

RQ-PCR tests are recommended at diagnosis and every 3 months until you achieve a major molecular response.10 After that, we will give you an RQ-PCR test every 6 months.10 These are simple blood tests that we will do when we regularly take blood to monitor your progress.

When should I expect to reach MMR?

Experts recommend certain response goals at different time points: a CHR at 3 months, a CCyR at 12 months, and an MMR within 18 months. We will continue to monitor your blood frequently to ensure the trend of Ph+ CML disease is continuing to go down and evaluate you according to response.10 It’s important to remember that you still need to take your medication every day as directed to keep Ph+ CML cells from coming back.

What happens if a result shows an increase? 

You may receive a test result that doesn’t show a continued reduction of Ph+ CML cells. It’s not a cause for alarm. Results may vary from time to time for a number of reasons. For example, if you have missed doses, or if a different lab was used, the test results could vary. This doesn’t necessarily mean your Ph+ CML is relapsing and getting worse. We will simply schedule an extra test to make sure you are still on track.10

Why is it important for me to take my medicine as directed?

If you don’t take your medicine exactly as directed, it increases the chance that your Ph+ CML will relapse and get worse.1,2 Clinical studies have shown that patients who take their CML medicine every day have significantly higher chances of reaching a major molecular response, which is linked to a significantly lower risk of their Ph+ CML relapsing and getting worse.1,2,8

If your medication makes you feel bad, don’t skip a dose! I can help you manage most side effects by giving you over-the-counter medicines that may help you feel better. If you feel great and want to forget your disease, don’t skip a dose! Remember that you must take your medication as prescribed to achieve and maintain an optimal response.

How can I keep from forgetting to take my medicine?

There are a number of ways to help remind you take your medicine. These may include trying to link taking your medication to a daily ritual, setting a cell phone alarm, scheduling a meeting or appointment reminder to take your medicine, or enlisting a treatment buddy to help remind you. Remember that you must take your medication as prescribed to achieve and maintain an optimal response.1,2

Why is a major molecular response an important treatment goal?

The optimal goal of therapy is to achieve and maintain a major molecular response, which greatly reduces the risk of Ph+ CML relapsing and getting worse. Results from 2 landmark studies show that patients who have a major molecular response have a much better chance of remaining free from disease progression, or relapse. This means their Ph+ CML cells didn’t increase for a long period of time.8,9

What is a complete molecular response?

A complete molecular response is the absence of any detectable Ph+ CML cells in your body. Taking your medication as prescribed once you achieve a major molecular response may further reduce the number of Ph+ CML cells remaining in your body to a level so low they are no longer detectable.7


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