Chronic myelogenous leukemia, also called chronic myeloid leukemia or CML, is a slowly progressing type of blood cancer that develops in the bone marrow, the soft, spongy center of long bones. Bone marrow produces the three major types of blood cells.
In CML, the infection-fighting white blood cells (WBC) affected are a specific kind of cell called myeloblasts. When these cells are healthy, they only reproduce when there is enough space for them to fit. The body regulates this by sending signals, telling the cells when to stop reproducing. With CML, the bone marrow makes abnormal WBC that don’t respond to these signals and keep reproducing regardless of space. These abnormal WBC reproduce quickly and, unlike healthy cells, don’t fight off infection.
Patients with CML are treated at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center through the Leukemia Program. Continue reading to learn more about CML or visit the Leukemia Program homepage to learn about our expertise and treatment options for this condition.
Symptoms arise when abnormal cells, called “blasts,” crowd out healthy cells. In the early stages of CML, there usually aren’t symptoms. When they do occur, a child may experience them over a period of months or even years.
The most common symptoms of CML include:
CML is often diagnosed during a routine blood test conducted for other reasons. Other diagnostic tests include:
After all tests are completed, doctors will be able to outline the best treatment options.
Treatment options for CML may include (alone or in combination):
Dana-Farber/Boston Children's has one of the largest and most experienced pediatric stem cell transplants programs in the United States. Watch the video to learn how stem cell transplants work.