Chronic Myeloid Leukemia - Treatment

Last Updated on Dec 09, 2016
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If CML is detected it is important to get treatment as quickly as possible.

The health professional usually knows what is best for the patient. Sometimes various combinations of treatment may be tried for the best effect. Treatment for CML depends on a number of factors such as -

  • Age
  • Health
  • Number of affected cells in the bone marrow and peripheral blood
  • Extent to which the cancer has spread to other parts of the body

The method of treatment for CML includes:

  • Medications:Common medications include kinase inhibitors, interferon alpha and other cancer -curing drugs, like hydroxyurea
  • Radiation: X-ray or gamma-radiations are used to kill cancer cells, to control the bone pain common to CML patients and also before a transplantation
  • Bone marrow / Stem cell transplantation: Bone marrow or stem cells may be infused into the blood intravenously where they begin to make healthy cells.

1.Chronic phase

  • The Chronic phase of CML is treated with tyrosinase kinase inhibitors targeted at the fusion protein synthesised by the bcr-abl gene of the ph chromosome.The first of these inhibitors was Imatinib mesylate ( marketed as Gleevec or Glivec ). This drug was approved by the FDA in 2001 and is better tolerated and more effective than previous therapies.
  • Dasatinib (marketed as Sprycel), is another new drug which inhibits a wider spectrum of tyrosine kinases.This drug was approved by the FDA in June 2006 to be used for CML patients who are no longer able to respond or tolerate treatment involving imatinib.
  • Bone marrow transplantation was initialy used as a mode of treatment for younger patients with CML before the advent of imatinib. Although it is known to be curative, BM transplantation is associated with a high rate of mortality.

2.Blast crisis

In the ‘blast crisis’ phase all the charecteristic symptoms of CML manifests themselves.This stage is also charecterized by a very high mortality rate. High dose chemotherapy is effectively used as treatment modes at this stage of CML.


In young patients in the accelerated phase, a bone marrow transplant may be considered.The chances of relapse after a bone marrow transplant is elevated in patients in the blast crisis phase or in the accelerated phase as when compared to patients in the chronic phase.

Treatment Risks

  • Treatment may cause unpleasant side effects such as
  1. Nausea
  2. Vomitting
  3. Feeling of tiredness
  4. Diarrhea
  5. Extra body fluid
  6. Reacting badly to a transplant
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I was diagnosed with CML over 23 years ago and even now doctors are gutless and spineless. This comment above "it is near-impossible for the doctor to give a correct estimate of the prognosis." The key word here is "estimate." Of course they can but they will not. I had a bone marrow transplant more than 6 years after diagnosis and during those 6 years no doctor would give me any clue about my prognosis. I was at M.D. Andersen Cancer Center in Houston and I saw many many doctors who would not say a word. And your comment regarding BMTs is a bit off. Back in 1995 the survival rate of BMTs was less than 10%. How do I know? I saw it with my own eyes. A BMT is nothing more and nothing less than the doctors killing you and then they try to revive you. They are not too successful at it. May it is better now, but I would think not because from what I saw the doctors do not care about your health post BMT. I have had some very serious problems but all they could say is, "you're alive." I believe the media and the public word is misleading CML patients. Although, I had a BMT the CML is still with me. I have read many places where they state, "BMT cures patients." If this is the case, why do I still have it? CML Prognosis - fact or fiction?


I have CML, my numbers aren't very good right now, if I could survive 23 years after diagnosis I would be so grateful, not clear about why you are complaining? Thanks


My friend had a kidney transplant a few years back and just as when she thought everything was ok, her husband was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia which devastated her, specially since she earns very little as a government employee and because her husband was told he couldn't return to his job as an OFW because the doctor of the company he works says he was unfit to work. Please, Im begging anybody here for help.. let us make a difference in their lives by giving them a chance to grow old together and raise their 2 year-old son, who was born after the transplant was done, into somebody they hoped he would grow to be. I can be contacted through my email address for other details about this lady who would like to move heaven and earth to give to her husband the best of health that he deserves We are looking for possible ways to acquire imatinib mesylate for a low price and for kindhearted individulas who can donate the drug. Thank you very much and may God continue to bless us all!


Hi,I'm not in a position that I can help financially. Based on research I did one can avail this drug through 'Glivec International Patient Assistance Program'. A substitute drug is in clinical trials 'dasatinib, nilotinib', same can be availed as a trial volunteer. Hope this works for you.


Can u advice if there is any program in india to receive imatinib drug or CML treatment in low cost ?


Glivec [ Imatinib ] is given free of cost under patient assistance program, if you meet certain criteria like low income etc. Various hospitals are registred under this program. This program is available at CMC, Velloore,in INDIA.


is there a diet that i can follow in order to support my fight against Myeloid leukemia?any food that is good or bad?thank you

mag burnsdouglas

how would i go about doing the great north run to raise money for leukemia research?could you put me in touch with the rite person please? thanks mag burns douglas

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