What is it?

Chronic myeloid leukemia (also called CML, chronic myelogenous leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia) is a type of leukemia, which is cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The term "myeloid" refers to the type of cells affected by this cancer, which are a specific type of white blood cells called granulocytes. These cells are part of the immune system and their role is to fight infections and diseases. The term "chronic" refers to the tendency of CML to progress slowly (as opposed to acute leukemia).
Most people with CML have a gene mutation (change) called the Philadelphia chromosome. This change causes abnormal rapid production of the granulocytes, resulting in a large amount of abnormal, non-functioning cells, which also cause less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
The extent or spread of CML is described as stages: chronic phase, accelerated phase, or blastic phase. The number of blast cells (cancerous cells) in the blood and bone marrow and the severity of signs or symptoms determine the phase of the disease.

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Additional names

This group contains additional names:
- Subacute Myeloid Leukemia
- Myeloid Sarcoma

Signs & symptoms

In the chronic phase of CML, there may be no symptoms. As the disease progresses, signs and symptoms may occur, including weakness, pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side (caused by enlargement of the spleen), increased incidence of infections, easy bruising or bleeding, weight loss and night sweats.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis process of CML begins with a doctor's examination. Further testing will be necessary:
- blood tests, including blood count and blood chemistry studies.
- Bone marrow test, in which a sample of bone marrow is taken using a needle inserted into the hipbone or another bone.
- Tests to look for the Philadelphia chromosome, performed on the blood or bone marrow samples.

Treatment

There are different types of treatment for patients with CML. The goal of treatment is to remove the cancer cells from the blood, and its effectiveness is measured by the extent to which cancer cells survive. Treatment usually begins with targeted therapy, which is a treatment that target the cancer cells specifically. Targeted drugs used in CML are called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Additional treatment options include:
- Chemotherapy - treatment that kills quickly growing cells.
- Immunotherapy - treatment that activate the immune system to fight cancer cells.
- Bone marrow transplant - treatment in which healthy marrow from a donor is transplanted and create new healthy blood cells instead of the cancerous cells.
- Surgery - in some cases, a surgery called splenectomy (removing of the spleen) will be needed.

☝️ This is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult with your physician before making any medical decision.

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