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Undetectable Minimal Residual Disease (UMRD) Explained

Undetectable Minimal Residual Disease (UMRD) Explained from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Brian Koffman, co-founder of The CLL Society, defines the term undetectable minimal residual disease (UMRD) and explains its role in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) care.

Dr. Brian Koffman is the cofounder, chief medical officer, and executive vice president of The CLL Society.

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So, “UMRD” stands for “undetectable minimal residual disease.” So, what the heck does that mean?

What that means is that if you got it, you’re in pretty great shape because your CLL has been driven down to such a low level that it’s no longer detectable. Now, that doesn’t mean that you’re cured of the CLL, that doesn’t mean the CLL is gone, but that means your CLL is such a low level that it’s no longer detectable. The minimal residual disease is undetectable; we can’t find it with the best tests that we have.

And, that is very good news because it means your CLL is either potentially cured – and we won’t know that for several years, but there’s some evidence to suggest that some people who reach UMRD are cured of their CLL, or that the CLL’s been knocked down to such a low level, it’ll be years before it reoccurs again. So, I think UMRD is one of the hot terms that’s getting a lot of attention, and it’s one that you wanna be comfortable and familiar with.

How is a CLL Treatment Path Determined?

How is a CLL Treatment Path Determined? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Dr. Danielle Brander explains the patient-specific factors and disease-specific factors that are taken into consideration when determining a treatment approach for people with CLL.

Dr. Danielle Brander is Director of the CLL and Lymphoma Clinical Research Program at Duke Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Brander See More From the Path to CLL Empowerment


Dr. Brander:

There are several factors to take in consideration when discussing individualized treatment approaches or options for patients.

Broadly, this can be divided into patient-specific factors, and then CLL-specific factors. And what I mean by that is patient’s age, even for patients very fit, we know from clinical trials that there’s a different processing, tolerability, and benefit of certain chemotherapies and a higher risk of certain side effects, even with the novel therapies as patients advance in age.

There are other patient-specific factors such as there are other medical problems. We often call these comorbidities. These are things like cardiovascular or a heart problem history, diabetes, kidney function differences. A lot of those factors play into individualizing when you know different treatment side effects what might be the best option for patients.

In the CLL-specific factors, these are some of the markers and characteristics that we have talked about in terms of FISH testing, TP53 mutation status, and IGHV mutation status. Based on recent clinical trials for patients receiving first treatment, if there are any changes, which historically chemotherapy didn’t treat the CLL for as long as we would have liked, we tend to err towards the novel agents for sure. And even across all markers, there can be a benefit of the newer drugs such as ibrutinib or venetoclax, or many of the other next-generation inhibitors that are in development. But for sure, patients with deletion 17p or TP53 mutation should never receive chemoimmunotherapy.

There’s a lot of research going into understanding what other CLL-specific markers may benefit for one treatment type versus the next. And we hope that all patients could potentially benefit from clinical trials both in the options that are offered as well as some of this other testing, which is how do you determine which markers are important for patients in the era of the drugs that we have today.