Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment Options & More

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Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. The bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells, including:

  • Myeloblasts
  • Red blood cells 
  • Platelets

CML progresses gradually. Over time, it may change into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), a more aggressive type of leukemia. 


CML is almost always associated with a gene mutation in the Philadelphia chromosome. This mutation occurs during life. It is not passed from parent to child. In most cases, the cause of the mutation is not known. Studies show that exposure to large doses of radiation is associated with development of CML. It may be found in survivors of nuclear accidents or of atomic bomb blasts. However, most patients with the condition have not been exposed to radiation.

Symptoms of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Possible symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Lack of energy
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Reduced exercise tolerance
  • Enlargement of the liver or spleen
  • Unexplained bleeding or unusual bruising


Your doctor will examine your lymph nodes, liver and spleen for swelling. 

  • These tests will check your bodily fluids:
    • Blood tests
    • Bone marrow aspiration
    • Bone marrow biopsy
    • Routine microscopic exam
    • Bone, blood marrow, lymph node tissue or cerebrospinal fluid tests
    • Cytogenetic analysis
  • Your doctor may take pictures of your bodily structures with:
    • Chest X-ray
    • CT scan
    • MRI scan
    • Ultrasound

Treatments for CML

Treatment options include:

  • Targeted drug therapy
  • Chemotherapy
  • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
  • Donor lymphocyte infusion therapy
  • Surgery

Content was created using EBSCO’s Health Library. Edits to original content made by Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice.