About the disease
Chronic myelogenous leukemia, also known as CML, is a cancer of white and red blood cells, which are formed in the bone marrow. Chronic myelogenous leukemia develops in the myeloid cells, which are responsible for making red and white blood cells. They also produce the platelets. When an abnormal gene forms in the myeloid cells, a person starts to develop myelogenous leukemia. Initially, chronic myelogenous leukemia develops in the bone marrow. Later, it starts to affect the blood. If not diagnosed and treated on time, it can affect other organs as well, including the spleen. Although chronic myelogenous leukemia develops gradually, still, it can turn into an acute form of myelogenous leukemia, which is generally more difficult to treat.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia is more common in adults, although in rare cases children can be also affected. In chronic myelogenous leukemia the abnormal cells do not mature completely and start to divide erratically. When this happens, a person is unable to fight infections as his/her immune system becomes much weaker and more exposed to different extraneous hazards. These abnormal cells live longer than normal cells, thus they start to outcrowd the normal cells and spread abnormally.
Nonetheless, chronic myelogenous leukemia develops slowly, thus it may take several years before first manifestations appear. Although the exact cause of chronic myelogenous leukemia is not known, exposure to radiation increases the risk of this disease. Also, chronic myelogenous leukemia is more common in males than females. Elder people are more likely to develop it than the younger ones.
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
- Excessive sweating
- Spleen become larger and the enlargement can be felt by palpation
- Feeling of fullness even if a person ate a very small amount of food
- During a general examination, a doctor will examine the medical history of the patient and check the spleen by palpation.
- A blood test is used to see if there is an abnormal amount of red and white blood cells which can be indicators of chronic myelogenous leukemia.
- A bone marrow aspiration and biopsy is the only procedure which can give a definite diagnosis and determine the type of leukemia. A doctor obtains a little sample of bone marrow and later examines it in the laboratory to check if there are any abnormal immature or mature cells in the bone marrow.
- MRI and CT scans are used to obtain the image of the spleen and check if it was affected.
- Chemotherapy and immunotherapy are used to destroy the cancerous cells and stop their progression. Immunotherapy is used to enhance and strengthen the immune system, which could weaken because of development of leukemia. Usually, a person needs several courses of chemotherapy to completely fight the leukemia.
- Stem cell transplant is a surgery, used to transplant new stem cells, which would renew the normal production of white and red blood cells and platelets in the blood. Normal stem cells may be taken from the patient and then frozen before the chemotherapy and implant them after all cancerous cells were killed. Also, stem cells from the donor who is the best fit for the patient can be used as well. Most commonly, relatives are the best donors.