Get answers to your Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia questions.
CML; Chronic granulocytic leukemia; Leukemia - chronic granulocytic
A medicine called Imatinib (Gleevec) is the first treatment for everyone with CML. Gleevec is a pill, taken by mouth. It is associated with very high rates of remission and survival. New medications similiar to Gleevec include dasatinib (Sprycel) and nilotinib (Tasigna).
Sometimes a chemotherapy medicine called hydroxyurea (Hydrea) is used temporarily to reduce the white blood cell count if it is very high at diagnosis.
The blast crisis phase is very difficult to treat, because it is marked by a very high count of immature white blood cells (leukemia cells). It is treated similarly to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) or acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL).
The only known cure for CML is a bone marrow transplant or stem cell transplant. You should discuss your options in detail with your oncologist.
Since the introduction of Gleevec, the outlook for patients with CML has improved dramatically. When the signs and symptoms of CML go away, you are said to be in remission. Many patients can remain in remission for many years while on this drug.
Stem cell tansplantation is usually considered in patients whose disease comes back after taking imatinib (Gleevec).
Blast crisis can lead to complications, including infection, bleeding, fatigue, unexplained fever, and kidney problems. Chemotherapy can have serious side effects, depending on the drugs used.
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of CML or have been diagnosed with CML and develop a fever higher than 100°F, chills, sore throat, or cough.
Kantarjian H, O'Brien S. The chronic leukemias. In: Goldman L, Ausiello D, eds. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 195.
National Comprehensive Cancer Network. National Comprehensive Cancer Network Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology: Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia. 2011. Version 2.2011.
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