Chronic Myeloid Leukemia: Basic Facts and Treatment Options

Treatment OptionsChronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) is a rare type of cancer that targets the blood cells. It is also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia or chronic granulocytic leukemia.

What Exactly is Chronic Myeloid Leukemia?

With CML, “chronic” means that this cancer type is more inclined to advance more slowly than other acute leukemia types. “Myeloid,” on the other hand, means that the leukemia affects developing myeloid cells.

When you have CML, the cancer cells may mature partially but not entirely; they will seem relatively normal, but are really not. Basically, they’re not capable of combating infections like normal white blood cells can. They’re also able to survive longer than your normal cells, and then gradually accumulate, boxing out normal cells in your bone marrow.

All chronic forms of leukemia may take a while to cause health issues, so affected people may not even know they have it for plenty of years. But, they are more difficult to treat than acute types of leukemia.

Treatment Options for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

The main objective of treating CML is getting rid of the affected blood cells containing the abnormal gene BCR-ABL that is the root cause of your excess cancerous blood cells. For majority of patients, complete elimination of cancer cells won’t be possible. But, treatments can significantly aid in achieving remission of the CML.

The first line of treatment for CML is targeted drugs, which are developed to fight cancer through focusing on a particular cancer cells feature that enables them to develop and subsequently multiply. With CML, these drugs target the protein tyrosine kinase, which is produced by the gene BCR-ABL. These include Dasatinib (Sprycel), Bosutinib (Bosulif, Imatinib (you can order Gleevec online), Nilotinib (Tasigna), and Omacetaxine (Synribo).

If the CML does not positively respond to drug treatment or develop resistance to one of these drugs, your doctor may recommend other drugs or treatments including Interferon therapy, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and stem cell transplant.

Important Warning

Do not stop treatment without your doctor’s advice. If you experience adverse reactions during treatment, speak with your doctor first before stopping medication. In addition, you must never stop treatment even if you feel significantly better or think that you’re in remission because only your doctor will be able to tell if you’re really cancer-free or not. More importantly, stopping treatment prematurely may cause your CML to return unexpectedly and quickly.