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Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML): Facts on symptoms, diagnosis and treatment

  • Posted on- Oct 15, 2015
  • 227 Views

Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia is an uncommon type of cancer of the blood cells and bone marrow. Patients of chronic myeloid leukaemia have a genetic mutation or change in their bone marrow cells that they develop from damage that occurs by chance after they are born, and there is no risk of passing on the gene to their children. This mutation is known as translocation, which means that part of a long strand of genes called a chromosome breaks off and reattaches to another chromosome.

Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia progresses more slowly than acute forms of leukaemia. It typically affects older adults and rarely occurs in children, though it can occur at any age. This cancer is also known as chronic myelogenous leukaemia or chronic granulocytic leukaemia.

Signs and symptoms of chronic myeloid leukaemia

Signs and symptoms of chronic myeloid leukaemia may include:


Tests and diagnosis for chronic myeloid leukaemia

After you have shown the signs and symptoms of chronic myeloid leukaemia, your doctor may suggest the following tests and procedures:
  • Physical exam: Your doctor will perform a complete physical examination to check pulse and blood pressure. He/she will also feel your lymph nodes, spleen and abdomen for any irregularities.
  • Blood tests: A complete blood count may reveal abnormalities in your blood cells. Your doctor may also perform blood chemistry tests to measure organ function.
  • Bone marrow tests: Bone marrow biopsy and bone marrow aspiration are used to collect bone marrow samples for laboratory testing. These tests involve collecting bone marrow from your hipbone.
  • Tests to look for the Philadelphia chromosome: A detailed lab test of your genes, called fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is done to measure the number of cells containing the Philadelphia chromosome.

Available treatments for chronic myeloid leukaemia

The objective of the treatment is to eliminate the blood cells that contain the abnormal BCR-ABL gene that causes the overabundance of diseased blood cells. Available treatments for chronic myeloid leukaemia include:
  • Targeted drugs: Targeted drugs such as Gleevec, Sprycel, Tasigna, and Bosulif are designed to attack cancer by focusing on a particular aspect of cancer cells that allows them to grow and multiply. In chronic myeloid leukaemia, the target of these drugs is the protein produced by the abnormal BCR-ABL gene.
  • Bone marrow transplant: Also known as a blood stem cell transplant, it offers the only chance for a definitive cure for chronic myeloid leukaemia. In the process, high doses of chemotherapy drugs are used to kill the blood-forming cells in your bone marrow. They are then replaced by blood stem cells from a donor which are infused into your bloodstream.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy drugs are typically combined with other treatments for chronic myeloid leukaemia. Often, chemotherapy treatment for chronic myelogenous leukaemia is given as a tablet you take orally.
  • Biological therapy: Biological therapies strengthen your body's immune system to help fight cancer. This option is successful for those patients who can't take other drugs or when other treatments fail.

Chronic myeloid leukaemia is a chronic disease which requires long-term treatment. The treatment can be physically and mentally draining, hence, it’s important to have the support of your friends and family members.

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