Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Cause of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Most people with chronic myelogenous leukemia have a genetic mutation called the Philadelphia chromosome. Every cell in the body contains DNA, which 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. This will cause the bone marrow to make an enzyme, called tyrosine kinase, which will cause too many stem cells to develop into white blood cells (granulocytes or blasts). The Philadelphia chromosome is not passed from parent to child.

Possible Symptoms

Like all blood cells, leukemia cells travel through the body. Depending on the number of abnormal cells and where these cells collect, people with chronic myelogenous leukemia may have a number of symptoms, such as tiredness, night sweats, and fever.
(Click CML Symptoms for more information about possible symptoms.)

Diagnosing Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Doctors use tests that examine the blood and bone marrow to detect and diagnose chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Tests and procedures used in diagnosing CML include:
  • Physical exam and history
  • Complete blood count
  • Blood chemistry studies
  • Cytogenetic analysis
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy.
Physical Exam and History
A physical exam will entail an exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease such as an enlarged spleen. Healthcare providers also take a history of the person's health habits and past illnesses and treatments.
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