When treatment with chemotherapy or radiotherapy is completed, the oncologist will review the response to treatment after a period of time - to allow the tumor to shrink, and the dead tumor cells to be removed by the body.
At the time of response assessment, a patient is reviewed by clinical examination, scans and blood tests or marker studies. Based on the the findings of all these tests, the doctor may describe your response as one of the following:
- Complete response (CR)- a complete disappearance of the disease. No disease is evident on examination, scans or other tests.
- Partial response (PR)- there is some disease remaining in the body, but there has a been a decrease in size or number of the lesions by 30% or more.
- Stable disease (SD)- the disease has remained virtaully unchanged in size and number of lesions. Generally, a less than 50% decrease or a slight increase in size would be described as stable disease.
- Progressive disease (PD)- The disease has increased in size or number on treatment.
A complete response is good news, but it does not automatically mean that a patient is cured. Some patients with a complete response to treatment may have a disease recurrence later. But it definitely is a great starting point for a cure.
On the other hand, when there is disease remaining in the body, doctors will advise further treatment, or keep a close watch till the disease shows signs of increasing or spreading.