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Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

  • Alternative Names

    CML; Chronic granulocytic leukemia; Leukemia - chronic granulocytic (CML)


    Treatment

    Imatinib (Gleevec) is the first-line therapy for everyone with CML. Gleevec is a pill, taken by mouth. It is associated with very high rates of remission and survival. New medications similiar to Gleevec include dasatinib (Sprycel) and nilotinib (Tasigna).

    Sometimes a chemotherapy medicine called hydroxyurea (Hydrea) is used temporarily to reduce the white blood cell count if it is very high at diagnosis.

    The blast crisis phase is very difficult to treat, because it is marked by a very high count of immature white blood cells (leukemia cells). It is treated similarly to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL).

    The only known cure for CML is a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant. You should discuss your options in detail with your oncologist.


    Support Groups

    See:

    • Cancer support group
    • Leukemia support group

    Expectations (prognosis)

    Since the introduction of Gleevec, the outlook for patients with CML has improved dramatically. When the signs and symptoms of CML go away, you are said to be in remission. Many patients can remain in remission for many years while on this drug.

    Stem cell tansplantation should be considered in patients whose disease comes back after initial treatment with imatinib (Gleevec). Long-term cure after transplantation ranges from 60 - 80%.


    Complications

    Blast crisis can lead to complications, including infection, bleeding, fatigue, unexplained fever, and kidney problems. Chemotherapy can have serious side effects, depending on the drugs used.


    Calling your health care provider

    Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of CML or have been diagnosed with CML and develop a fever higher than 100°F, chills, sore throat, or cough.