Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
CML is one of four main types of leukemia.
Hematologists and oncologists are specialists who treat people who
have CML or other types of blood cancer.
Most CML patients are treated with daily oral drug therapy.
What Is CML?
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the bone marrow and
blood. CML is usually diagnosed in its chronic phase when treatment is
very effective for most patients.
CML is also called:
chronic myelogenous leukemia
chronic granulocytic leukemia
chronic myelocytic leukemia.
chronic myeloid leukemia phase plays a large part in determining the type
of treatment. CML has three phases:
the chronic phase
the accelerated phase
the blast crisis phase
Each phase describes CML's progression, determined by the number of
blast cells - white cells that don't fully form as they should, blocking
production of functioning blood cells - in the blood and bone marrow.
Chronic Phase CML
Most patients are diagnosed during CML's chronic phase when symptoms
are mild or not noticeable. During this phase, the white cells can still fight
infection. In most cases, long-term drug therapy can control chronic
phase CML, and the patient can usually return to normal activities after
A small number of people diagnosed and treated during the chronic phase
progress to the accelerated phase. These patients appear to stop
responding to treatment as the disease advances.
Accelerated Phase CML
If the patient is diagnosed during accelerated phase CML, the blood may
a lower-than-normal number of red cells, which can cause anemia
a low number of platelets
an increase or decrease in white cells
a high number of blast cells
The patient may also have a swollen spleen, which can cause stomach
discomfort, and a general feeling of ill health.
Blast Crisis Phase CML
If the patient is diagnosed in CML's blast crisis phase, it is an indication
of increased number of blast cells in bone marrow and blood. In this
phase the patient may experience:
a lack of energy or feelings of tiredness
shortness of breath
stomach pain (from an enlarged spleen)
Once CML reaches this more severe, advanced phase, its effects on
patients are similar to those caused by an acute leukemia and can be life
threatening. For about 25 percent of people who reach this phase, CML
takes on the appearance of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.