Astellas Pharma Provides Help, Guidance, and Hope for Patients With Relapsed or Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML)

Astellas Pharma, headquartered in Northbrook, Illinois presents its Be R/Ready program to promote patient-physician communication as well as other valuable and informative resources.

Their program centers around patients with relapsed acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or AML that resists treatment (refractory). Even patients who are now in remission but are concerned about a relapse will find a wealth of valuable information.

The Be R/Ready program is comprehensive in its step by step guidance while offering support not only to patients but to their caregivers.

The Be R/Ready, Astellas sponsored resource is available here.

Dr. Krivoshik’s interview regarding Be R/Ready

Dr. Andy Krivoshik, Senior Vice President and Oncology Therapeutic Head at Astellas, was recently interviewed for this article. Dr. Krivoshik explained that genomic testing at diagnosis or relapse is extremely important in order for doctors and patients to make informed decisions.

Dr. Krivoshik points out that Be R/Ready was designed to help patients navigate treatment plans that will target their AML subtype.

The following is Attributed to Dr. Andy Krivoshik, MD, Ph.D. Senior Vice President, Oncology Therapeutic Head at Astellas

Question: Dr. Krivoshik The general public receives an abundance of information about genetics and genes through the media. Would you have an opinion about whether the concept of genes and genetics are used and understood by the public?

When we hear the word genetics, most people likely think of high-profile scientific programs like the Human Genome Project or Dolly, the cloned sheep. However, in healthcare, we have seen innovation in precision medicine continue to evolve in recent years, so much so, that we now can identify the genetic drivers of some specific cancers and address them through the use of targeted therapies.

For example, when it comes to patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an aggressive type of blood cancer, there are many different subtypes caused by specific changes or unique mutations in the body’s genes. These mutations can occur in several different genes, but approximately one-third of newly diagnosed patients with AML have a mutation in a gene called FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3).

Given the heterogeneity of AML, as well as the prevalence of FLT3 mutations, it is important to perform genetic tests in order to understand the underlying biology of the cancer—and ultimately make more informed choices about treatment plans and options.

While it is common to conduct genetic testing at initial diagnosis of AML, it’s important to understand that mutation status can develop or change over time, making it essential that patients undergo testing at both diagnosis and at relapse.

For precision medicine at large, more education and increased awareness of genetic testing for certain cancers can lead to better informed treatment plans for patients.

Question: Dr. Krivoshik  What are your thoughts about establishing resources to inform the public about gene therapy and genetic testing? Would you say that Be R/Ready is a pioneer in this area?

It is important that we raise awareness and more understanding of the significance of genetic testing as a crucial component for treatment decisions in the field of oncology.

For example, while progress has been made in understanding the molecular genetics of AML, many patients continue to be managed with treatment approaches that are not targeted to their specific AML subtype.

Be R/Ready was specifically designed to provide information about AML, because it is a complex disease that can be challenging to treat and there is a need for more resources for patients seeking information at the time of relapse or when they are not responding to treatment (refractory disease).

Be R/Ready serves as a resource for patients, caregivers, and their health care team, offering information about relapsed or refractory AML and the importance of genetic testing.

Over time, we intend to expand Be R/Ready to provide additional robust information including patient stories, expert physician voices and tools to facilitate ongoing knowledge exchange to create a more united and informed community. Providing the right information and resources can aid in doing so.

Question: Dr. Krivoshik Research has proven that if a provider has a reasonable understanding of a patient’s knowledge about genetics, the provider will be able to conduct a more effective consultation. What do you believe is the best approach to gain this knowledge from the patient?

Having an open dialogue with one’s health care team through asking questions and advocating for one’s health is important at every step of a cancer journey.

Astellas recognizes the importance of strong relationships between patients and their care teams. That’s why as part of Be R/Ready, we felt strongly about providing actionable tools that can aide in those conversations, such as a discussion guide that helps patients prepare questions about genetic testing and treatment planning before ever entering a consultation or exam room with their physician.

A diagnosis like acute myeloid leukemia (AML) can be devastating for patients and their caregivers, especially those who have relapsed or are refractory to treatment and ensuring all those involved understand  how genetic mutations can change over time is important to determining the appropriate treatment options.

After all, patient-centered care includes fostering good communication between patients and their cancer care team; developing and presenting evidence-based information to inform patients about treatment options; and practicing shared decision making.

Question: Dr. Krivoshik How does Be R/Ready fit into the big picture in education and awareness?

Among patients with AML, there remains a need for more resources and information at the time of relapse or when they are not responding to treatment.

Be R/Ready is one small piece of the information puzzle, and as mentioned earlier, we have plans to expand and provide more robust tools and materials for patients and care teams in the future.

We’ve all heard the saying—knowledge is power—and we feel strongly about providing resources that help patients navigate a cancer diagnosis with confidence by providing them with the information to make informed choices for their future.

Be R/Ready’s discussion guide establishes a comfort zone for patients and caregivers when discussing genetic testing with their physician. It enables patients to be more directly involved with their own treatment planning. The discussion guide can be downloaded from your Be R/Ready literature.

Astellas is prepared to address patients’ concerns:

“I know that an AML relapse is possible. I want to be ready to face it.”

Rose Duesterwald

Rose Duesterwald

Rose became acquainted with Patient Worthy after her husband was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) six years ago. During this period of partial remission, Rose researched investigational drugs to be prepared in the event of a relapse. Her husband died February 12, 2021 with a rare and unexplained occurrence of liver cancer possibly unrelated to AML.

Share this post

Follow us