Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia, is a type of cancer that develops in cells of the blood and bone marrow, specifically the myeloid line of cells. Bone marrow is the soft tissue inside the bones where new blood cells are made. The myeloid cell line is a group of blood-forming cells that normally mature into white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. Chronic forms of leukemia tend to progress more slowly than the acute forms. Chronic myeloid leukemia is characterized by a gene rearrangement between chromosome 9 and chromosome 22 known as the Philadelphia chromosome which creates what is called the BCR/ABL gene. Chronic myeloid leukemia CML affects far more adults than children, and more men than women.

Signs and symptoms often do not show up in the early stages. However, CML may cause one or more of the following:

  • Excessive night sweats
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal fullness
  • Easy bleeding
  • Weight loss

Potential risk factors for developing CML include older age, exposure to radiation, and immunosuppression. Most patients will live for greater than 5 years and may remain in remission for decades while on therapy.

Treatment options for CML may include one or more of the following:

  • Oral drugs that target BCR/ABL (called tyrosine kinase inhibitors)
  • Biologic therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • Stem cell transplant
  • Targeted drug therapy