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After treatment

Effects of treatment for AML on fertility

Some of the drugs used to treat acute myeloid leukaemia can cause temporary or permanent infertility. Your doctor will talk to you about this in more detail before you start your treatment. If
you have a partner, you may want them to be with you so you can discuss any fears or worries together.

Some drugs have less effect on your fertility than others, and couples have had normal, healthy babies after one partner has been treated for leukaemia. Unfortunately, people who have had
intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and a stem cell or bone marrow transplant, are likely to be permanently infertile.

It may be possible for men to store sperm before starting treatment, so it can be used later if they want to have a family. Rarely, a woman's eggs or fertilised eggs (embryos) can be stored before chemotherapy, so that she may have the chance to have a child after treatment. However, as treatment for AML usually needs to start as quickly as possible, there is not always enough time to store sperm or embryos.

As your doctor knows the details of the treatment you are having, they are the best person to answer your questions. You can write down any questions that you have so you are clear about
your treatment, and the effect it is likely to have on you, before it starts.

Coping with infertility

If chemotherapy has made you infertile, it can be very difficult to come to terms with the fact that you can no longer have children. Talking about your feelings with your partner, family or a close friend can help to clarify your thoughts and give the people close to you the opportunity to understand how you are feeling.

If it would be easier to talk to someone outside the circle of your immediate friends and family, you may find it helpful to talk to your doctor, nurse, social worker or a trained counsellor (see
organisations). Our cancer support service can give information on how to contact a counsellor in your area.

Our booklet on sexuality and cancer looks at the effects cancer and its treatment can have on sexuality and fertility. It also suggests ways to keep love and sex alive during this difficult time.

Follow-up after treatment for AML

Once your treatment is finished, you will have regular check-ups. These will continue every three to six months for several years, but will become less frequent as time goes on. You will continue to have appointments at the hospital for up to 10 years. Many people find that they get very anxious before their appointments. This is natural and it may help to get support from family, friends or a support organisation.

If you have any problems, or notice new symptoms between your appointments, let your doctor know as soon as possible.

We have a booklet on adjusting to life after cancer treatment, which gives useful advice on how to keep healthy and adjust to life after cancer.

If the leukaemia comes back (relapse)

Chemotherapy may cure the leukaemia. Sometimes however, the acute myeloid leukaemia does come back. This is called relapse, which can be very disappointing and upsetting. If this happens, your specialist will advise you on how best to treat the leukaemia, and work out the most positive approach for you.

Your leukaemia may be resistant to the drugs that you had initially, so different drugs or new combinations of different drugs may be needed to give you further remissions.

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