Chronic myeloid leukemia


Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the white blood cells. It is a form of leukemia characterized by the increased and unregulated growth of predominantly myeloid cells in the bone marrow and the accumulation of these cells in the blood. CML is a clonal bone marrow stem cell disorder in which proliferation of mature granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils) and their precursors is the main feature. It is a type of myeloproliferative disease associated with a characteristic chromosomal translocation called the Philadelphia chromosome.

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    Cause & Symptoms
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    Diagnosis & Therapy

Cause

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is caused by a genetic change in the white blood cells. This change leads to the uncontrollable reproduction of the white blood cells (leukocytosis), which is very typical for CML.

Risk factors that can lead to the development of the disease are ionizing radiation, chemical compounds such as benzene and certain treatment such as chemotherapy and immunosuppressants. CML belongs into the field of Rare Diseases with one or two new cases being identified in 100,000 inhabitants each year. The disease is usually first diagnosed between the age of 50 and 60.

Symptoms

Nonspecific onset

The start of the disease is accompanied by general and nonspecific symptoms such as tiredness, lethargy, night sweats, weight loss and fever. However, as the disease continues to progress the liver and spleen will start to enlarge creating pressure in the upper abdomen.  

The three phases of CML are:

  • Chronic phase
  • Accelerated phase
  • Blast phase

The general well-being of the patient begins to deteriorate as the leukocyte count increases and the bone marrow’s ability to produce regular blood cells becomes impaired. A continuous fever and a worsening of the blood count are signs of a progression in the disease. As the disease continuous to progress over time, it can enter an acute, life-threatening phase.