Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a type of cancer that causes the body to produce large numbers of immature and mature white blood cells (myelocytes). It is sometimes referred to as chronic myeloid leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia.

CML is more common in men than in women. It occurs more frequently in adults in their 50s and is rarely seen in children.

Symptoms of CML include weakness and fatigue, fever, night sweats, poor appetite, and weight loss. The spleen may become swollen and painful.

CML is classified into three distinct phases.

  • Chronic phase: In this phase, the bone marrow fills with large numbers of abnormal white blood cells (myeloproliferation) in various stages of maturation. Symptoms may not be present. Most cases of CML are diagnosed during the chronic phase.
  • Accelerated phase: In this phase, the bone marrow loses its ability to function because abnormal white blood cells crowd out other functioning cells. In this phase, treatment may not be as effective.
  • Blast crisis phase: In this phase, CML suddenly transforms into another, more severe form of leukemia.

Treatment for CML depends on the stage of the disease and may include chemotherapy, radiation, or bone marrow transplant.

Last Updated: November 26, 2008

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Brian Leber, MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology

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