What Does It Mean When Cancer Is in Remission?


Quick Answer

Complete remission means that there are no cancer cells found in the body based on tests, physical exams and scans of the body, according to WebMD. This can also be referred to as No Evidence of Disease, or NED. Partial remission means that the cancer is still present, but the tumor has become smaller, or in the case of blood cancers, there is less cancer found throughout the body.

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Full Answer

In both types of remission, this diagnosis does not mean that the cancer is cured, according to WebMD. Because it is impossible to tell whether or not all the cancer cells in the body are gone, the word "cured" is not commonly used with cancer. When cancer cells reappear, it typically happens within five years from the first diagnosis and treatment of cancer. When the cells reappear after an initial period of remission, this is called a recurrence of the cancer. While there is no way to predict the recurrence of cancer, there are steps that can be taken to minimize complications. Sticking to a schedule of recommended checkups is critical whether or not symptoms are present. Follow up care once remission is achieved most often includes regular blood work, physical exams and imaging tests.

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