Encyclopedia of Cancer

Living Edition
| Editors: Manfred Schwab

Minimal Residual Disease

  • Jerald P. RadichEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27841-9_3755-2



The presence of disease detected in a patient who by conventional clinical and pathologic measurements is in remission.


At diagnosis a patient with cancer may have billions of malignant cells. In leukemia, these cancer cells circulate in the bloodstream. After chemotherapy many cancer patients achieve “remission,” meaning that their disease cannot be detected by conventional clinical, radiological, and pathological examinations. Nonetheless, the major cause of failure in cancer therapy is the recurrence of disease, usually after the induction of a remission. The problem of defining remission and relapse is illustrated in (Fig. 1). In this essay we will use leukemia, a malignancy of the white blood cells, as a disease example, though the principle of remission, minimal residual disease (MRD) detection, and relapse applies to all malignancies.


Acute Myeloid Leukemia Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinical Research DivisionFred Hutchinson Cancer Research CenterSeattleUSA