Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Overview – Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also called chronic myelogenous leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow. CML causes an increased number of white blood cells in the blood.

In chronic myeloid leukemia, there is extra-short chromosome 22 and an extra-long chromosome 9 because a section of chromosome 9 switches places with a section of chromosome 22. The extra-short chromosome 22 is called the Philadelphia chromosome.

The risk factors for chronic myeloid leukemia are older age, male gender, radiation exposure.


  • Easy bleeding
  • Bone pain
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Excessive sweating especially during sleep (night sweats)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fever
  • Feeling tired


  • Diagnosis is made by looking at peripheral blood and bone marrow and is confirmed by demonstration of the Philadelphia chromosome by genetic testing.

Lifestyle management

  • Follow a healthy diet and exercise program as recommended by your doctor.
  • Do not stop taking medications if you feel better and think your disease may be gone.
  • Fatigue, bone pain may be relieved by yoga, massage, relaxation techniques.

Medical management

  • Targeted drugs that are used include imatinib, dasatinib, nilotinib, bosutinib, ponatinib. Side effects of these drugs include swelling, nausea, muscle cramps, diarrhea, skin rashes, and weakness. Blood tests are used to monitor the effectiveness of targeted drug therapy. Most people continue to take targeted drugs even when blood tests show remission of the disease.
  • A bone marrow transplant also called a stem cell transplant, is the definitive cure for chronic myeloid leukemia. This is usually reserved for people who have not responded with other treatments because of the high risks associated with bone marrow transplants.
  • Chemotherapy drugs are sometimes used along with targeted drugs.

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