Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

At a glance

  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a slowly progressing disease that usually occurs during or after middle age.
  • 90 percent of cases are survivable.
  • Sometimes CML does not cause any symptoms at all. Some possible symptoms of (CML) include feeling very tired, weight loss for no known reason, night sweats, fever.
  • Most people with CML have a gene mutation called the Philadelphia chromosome.

About CML

Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a blood disease in which the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells. Chronic myelogenous leukemia (also called CML or chronic granulocytic leukemia) is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease that usually occurs during or after middle age, and rarely occurs in children. CML is one of a group of diseases called the myeloproliferative disorders. Estimated new cases and deaths from chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) in the United States in 2010 are 4,870 and 440 respectively.

About cancer cells

Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells that develop into mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. The lymphoid stem cell develops into a white blood cell. The myeloid stem cell develops into one of three types of mature blood cells; red blood cells, platelets and granulocytes. In CML, too many blood stem cells develop into a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. These granulocytes are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells. They may also be called leukemic cells. The leukemic cells can build up in the blood and bone marrow so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. When this happens, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.

Symptoms

Possible symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia include:
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Night sweats.
  • Fever.
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side.
Sometimes CML does not cause any symptoms at all. Most people with CML have a gene mutation (change) called the Philadelphia chromosome. Philadelphia chromosome— Every cell in the body contains DNA (genetic material) that determines how the cell looks and acts. DNA is contained inside chromosomes. In CML, part of the DNA from one chromosome moves to another chromosome. This change is called the “Philadelphia chromosome.” It results in the bone marrow making an enzyme, called tyrosine kinase that causes too many stem cells to develop into white blood cells (granulocytes or blasts). The Philadelphia chromosome is not passed from parent to child. If you have symptoms of CML, contact us to request an appointment with Diablo Valley Oncology’s physicians. We offer clinical trials for hematologic malignancies.