Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a form of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells. In most cases, the cause involves a genetic mutation called the Philadelphia chromosome. Common symptoms of this condition include tiredness, night sweats, and fever. Some of the treatment options include chemotherapy, biological therapy, and surgery.

What Is Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia?

Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease. It is also known as:
  • CML
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic granulocytic leukemia.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia usually occurs during or after middle age, and rarely occurs in children. It accounts for approximately 4,400 new cases of leukemia each year.
The American Cancer Society estimated that 4,500 men and women (2,550 men and 1,950 women) would be diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia in 2006.
(Click Types of Leukemia to learn about other forms of leukemia.)

How CML Affects Blood Cells

Normally, the body produces bone marrow stem cells (immature cells) that develop into mature blood cells.
The three types of mature blood cells include:
  • Red blood cells that carry oxygen and other materials to all tissues of the body
  • White blood cells that fight infection and disease
  • Platelets that help prevent bleeding by causing blood clots to form.
In chronic myelogenous leukemia, the body tells too many bone marrow stem cells to develop into a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. Some of these cells never become mature white blood cells. These are called blasts. Over time, the granulocytes and blasts crowd out the red blood cells and platelets in the bone marrow.
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