Chronic myeloid leukemia, or CML, is a rare blood cancer that develops when the bone marrow makes too many of the white blood cells known as myeloid cells. About 95 percent of all CML cases are caused by an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome.

Every person’s disease is different, with individually unique genes and molecules driving that disorder. At the OSUCCC – James, our leukemia subspecialists are world-renowned experts who focus solely on blood and bone marrow disorders and who reach across medical disciplines (hematologists, radiation oncologists, molecular and biological pathologists, genetic scientists and more) to design the very best treatment plan and therapies to target each patient’s specific leukemia.

And by receiving access to some of the country’s most advanced clinical trials right here at the OSUCCC – James, patients know that additional options, when needed, are always available for their treatment and care.

What is Chronic Myeloid Leukemia?

In a healthy body, bone marrow first makes immature blood cells, known as stem cells, which eventually become mature blood cells.

A stem cell may become either a white blood cell, known as a lymphoid stem cell, or a myeloid stem cell, which will become one of three kinds of mature blood cells:

  • Red blood cells, which carry oxygen and other substances to all body tissues
  • Platelets, which form blood clots to stop bleeding
  • Granulocytes, which are the white blood cells that fight infection and disease

In chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), however, too many stem cells become granulocytes — the white blood cells that fight infection and disease, which then begin crowding out the red blood cells and platelets.

These extra granulocytes (also called leukemia cells) never become healthy white blood cells. Instead, they build up in the blood and bone marrow, creating less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This causes infection, anemia or easy bleeding.

About 6,000 Americans are diagnosed with CML each year. The disease affects mostly older adults, with 67 years old being the average age at diagnosis.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Symptoms

Chronic Myeloid leukemia (CML) symptoms sometimes take years to develop, and many people live symptom-free at first, especially early on in the disease.

Many times, patients find out they have CML after a physical exam or a blood test for other abnormalities.

When CML symptoms do gradually start to appear, they may be because of other, less serious illnesses.

CML symptoms include:

  • Little to no energy
  • Shortness of breath during normal physical activity
  • Pale skin
  • Discomfort or pain in the upper left side of your midsection (caused by an enlarged spleen)
  • Heavy night sweats
  • Fever
  • Intolerance of warm temperatures
  • Unexplained weight loss

(Source: National Cancer Institute)

Having symptoms does not necessarily mean you have CML. But if you have symptoms, you should tell your doctor, especially if symptoms are severe or have continued for longer than a few weeks.

If you’ve been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, would like a second opinion or would like to speak with a leukemia specialist, please call The James Line at 800-293-5066 or 614-293-5066 to make an appointment.

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The James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute

460 West 10th Avenue

Columbus, Ohio 43210

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