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Cancer that starts in blood-forming tissue, such as the bone marrow, and causes large numbers of abnormal blood cells to be produced and enter the bloodstream.
Chronic myeloid leukaemia(also called CML or chronic granulocytic leukaemia) is a slowly progressing blood and bone marrow disease that usually occurs during or after middle age, and rarely occurs in children.
Normally, the bone marrow makes blood stem cells (immature cells) that become mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. A lymphoid stem cell becomes a white blood cell. A myeloid stem cell becomes one of three types of mature blood cells:
Blood cell development. A blood stem cell goes through several steps to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell.
In CML, too many blood stem cells become a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. These granulocytes are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells. They are also called leukaemiacells. The leukaemiacells can build up in the blood and bone marrow so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. When this happens, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.
This summary is about chronic myeloid leukaemia. See the following summaries for information about other types of leukaemiain the A-Z List of Cancers.
These and other signs and symptoms may be caused by CML or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:
Sometimes CML does not cause any symptoms at all.
Every cell in the body contains DNA (genetic material) that 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.” It results in the bone marrow making an enzyme, called tyrosine kinase, that causes too many stem cells to become white blood cells (granulocytes or blasts).
The Philadelphia chromosome is not passed from parent to child.
Philadelphia chromosome. A piece of chromosome 9 and a piece of chromosome 22 break off and trade places. The bcr-abl gene is formed on chromosome 22 where the piece of chromosome 9 attaches. The changed chromosome 22 is called the Philadelphia chromosome.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
Complete blood count (CBC). Blood is collected by inserting a needle into a vein and allowing the blood to flow into a tube. The blood sample is sent to the laboratory and the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are counted. The CBC is used to test for, diagnose, and monitor many different conditions.
Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy. After a small area of skin is numbed, a Jamshidi needle (a long, hollow needle) is inserted into the patient’s hip bone. Samples of blood, bone, and bone marrow are removed for examination under a microscope.
One of the following tests may be done on the samples of blood or bone marrow tissue that are removed:
The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options depend on the following:
For more information on chronic myeloid leukaemia click here
This link is to the National Cancer Institute (NCI) cancer website in the United States. There may be references to drugs and clinical trials that are not available here in Australia.
For information courtesy of Cancer Australia, please click here
Page last updated: 07/05/2020