Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
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NORD is very grateful to Olivia Lanes, NORD Intern and Thomas P. Loughran, Jr, MD, Professor of Medicine Director, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute, for assistance in the preparation of this report.
Synonyms of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- chronic granulocytic leukemia
- chronic myelocytic leukemia
- chronic myeloid leukemia
- No subdivisions found.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) accounts of about 20% of all leukemias affecting adults. It typically affects middle-aged individuals and rarely adolescents or children. CML is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disorder, characterized by the excessive development of white blood cells in the spongy tissue found inside large bones of the body (bone marrow), spleen, liver and blood. As the disease progresses, the leukemic (blast) cells invade other areas of the body including the intestinal tract, kidneys, lungs, gonads and lymph nodes. These diseased cells do not grow old and eventually die like normal cells. They build up in huge numbers, overwhelm healthy blood cells and damage the bone marrow.
Since CML progresses slowly, many people are first diagnosed during routine blood exams before they even show symptoms. There is no cure for CML because it is not possible to eliminate all of the diseased cells in the body, however, there are many approved treatments that can achieve a long-term remission. Patients respond best to treatment when CML is in its earliest stage, so it is important to diagnose the disease as early as possible. Possible symptoms that may indicate CML are fever, night sweats, fatigue, pain below the ribs on the left side, and inexplicable weight loss. If an individual is experiencing any of the above symptoms or other signs, it is important they make an appointment with their doctor to be tested for CML.
There are three phases of chronic myelogenous leukemia. The first phase, or the chronic phase, is characterized by a slow, progressive overproduction of white blood cells. In chronic CML, fewer than 10% of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are blast (leukemic) cells. Patients in this phase have the best response to treatment. The next phase is transitional, and is called the accelerated phase, which occurs when 10%-19% of the cells are blast cells. The most advanced phase is the blastic phase. At this point, over 20% of the blood cells are blast cells). In the blastic phase, the leukemia is very aggressive and does not respond well to therapy. Approximately 85% of all individuals with chronic myelogenous leukemia enter this phase.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Resources
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