What to Know About Myelogenous Leukemia
Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a type of blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow—the soft tissue located at the center of the bones that helps create red blood cells, white blood, cells, and platelets. Chronic myelogenous leukemia prompts an uncontrolled growth of mature cells and immature cells that create myeloid cells, a type of white blood cells. Later on, dead blood cells build up in the bone marrow and blood.
Causes of Chronic myelogenous leukemia
Cause of chronic myelogenous leukemia is related to an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome.
Radiation exposure can increase the risk of developing chronic myelogenous leukemia. Radiation exposure can be from radiation treatments used in the past to treat thyroid cancer or Hodgkin lymphoma or from a nuclear disaster.
It takes many years to develop leukemia from radiation exposure. Most people treated for cancer with radiation do not develop leukemia. And most people with chronic myelogenous leukemia have not been exposed to radiation.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia most often occurs in middle-age adults and in children.
Symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia
Chronic myelogenous leukemia is grouped into phases:
- Blast crisis
The chronic phase can last for months or years. The disease may have few or no symptoms during this time. Most people are diagnosed during this stage, when they have blood tests done for other reasons.
The accelerated phase is a more dangerous phase. Leukemia cells grow more quickly. Common symptoms include fever (without infection), bone pain, and a swollen spleen.
Untreated chronic myelogenous leukemia leads to the blast crisis phase. Bleeding and infection may occur due to bone marrow failure.
Other possible symptoms of a blast crisis include:
- Excessive sweating (night sweats)
- Pressure under the lower left ribs from a swollen spleen
- Rash - small pinpoint red marks on the skin ( petechiae )
Exams and tests
A physical examination often reveals a swollen spleen. A complete blood count ( CBC ) shows an increased number of white blood cells with many immature forms present and an increased number of platelets. These are parts of the blood that help blood clot.
Other tests that may be done include:
- Bone marrow biopsy
- Blood and bone marrow testing for the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome
- Platelet count
Medicines that target the abnormal protein made by the Philadelphia chromosome are often the first treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia. These medicines can be taken as pills. Sometimes, chemotherapy is used first to reduce the white blood cell count if it is very high at diagnosis.
The blast crisis phase is very difficult to treat. This is because there is a very high count of immature white blood cells (leukemia cells).
The only known cure for chronic myelogenous leukemia is a bone marrow transplant, or stem cell transplant. Most people, though, do not need a transplant because the targeted medicines are successful. Discuss your options with your oncologist.
You and your health care provider may need to manage many other issues or concerns during your leukemia treatment, including:
- Managing your pets during chemotherapy
- Bleeding problems
- Eating enough calories when you are sick
- Swelling and pain in your mouth
- Safe eating during cancer treatment
Support Groups - You can ease the stress of illness by joining a cancer support group . Sharing with others who have common experiences and problems can help you not feel alone.
Outlook (Prognosis) - Targeted medicines have greatly improved the outlook for people with chronic myelogenous leukemia. When the signs and symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia go away and blood counts and bone marrow biopsy appear normal, the person is considered in remission. Most people can remain in remission for many years while on this medicine.
Stem cell or bone marrow transplant is often considered in people whose disease comes back or gets worse while taking the initial medicines. Transplant may also be recommended for people who are diagnosed in an accelerated phase or blast crisis.
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. Prevention
Avoid exposure to radiation when possible.
Family medicine in Abu Dhabi
Adam and Eve Specialized Medical Centre will help you treat chronic myelogenous leukemia through our family medicine doctor. If you are noticing symptoms of this disease, don’t hesitate to visit our clinic in Abu Dhabi.