Chronic Myelocytic Leukemia

(CML; Chronic Myeloid Leukemia; Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia; Chronic Granulocytic Leukemia)

Definition

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Under normal circumstances, the bone marrow makes:
  • Myeloblasts—a type of white blood cell that fights infection
  • Red blood cells (RBCs)—carries oxygen to the body's cells and tissues
  • Platelets—makes blood clot to stop bleeding in cuts or bruises
CML progresses gradually. It is often slow growing for many years. Over time, it may change into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). This is a more aggressive type of leukemia. It progresses more rapidly and is more serious.
White Blood Cells
White Blood Cells
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Causes

Cancer occurs when cells in the body become abnormal. They divide without control or order. Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells and their parent cells. Leukemia cells do not function normally. In this case, they cannot fight infections. This means that the person is more likely to become infected with viruses or bacteria. The cancerous cells also overgrow the bone marrow. This forces other normal cells, like platelets out. Platelets are needed to help the blood clot. As a result, people with leukemia may bleed more easily.CML is almost always associated with a gene mutation. The gene is in a chromosome called 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 people with the condition have not been exposed to radiation.

Risk Factors

CML is more common in men and in those of increasing age. Other factors that may increase your chance of CML include:
  • Smoking is the only lifestyle factor that has been linked to leukemia. Its association with CML is still unclear.
  • Exposure to atomic bomb radiation.
  • Exposure to nuclear reactor accident.

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