What is leukemia? Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells, usually the white blood cells.
What are the types of leukemia?
There are four main types of leukemia, which can be further divided into subtypes. When classifying the type of leukemia, the first steps are to determine if the cancer is:
1. Lymphocytic or myelogenous leukemia:
Cancer can occur in either the lymphoid or myeloid white blood cells.
When the cancer develops in the lymphocytes (lymphoid cells), it is called lymphocytic leukemia.
When the cancer develops in the granulocytes or monocytes (myeloid cells), it is called myelogenous leukemia.
2. Acute or chronic leukemia:
Leukemia is either acute or chronic.
The new or immature cancer cells, called blasts, remain very immature and cannot perform their functions. The blasts increase in number rapidly, and the disease progresses quickly.
There are some blast cells present, but they are more mature and are able to perform some of their functions. The cells grow more slowly, and the number increases less quickly, so the disease progresses gradually.
Based on these findings, the leukemia is then classified into one of the four main types of leukemias: acute myelogenous leukemia (AML); chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL); or chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL).
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood in which too many granulocytes, a type of white blood cell, build up in the bone marrow.
Normally, bone marrow cells mature into several different types of blood cells. CML affects the young blood cells called blasts that normally develop into a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. The main function of granulocytes is to destroy bacteria. The blasts do not mature, increase to large numbers, and remain in the bone marrow and blood.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia can occur over a period of months or years. A specific chromosome rearrangement is found in the cells of almost all patients with CML. Part of chromosome #9 breaks off and attaches itself to chromosome #22, so that there is an exchange of genetic material between these two chromosomes. This rearrangement changes the position and functions of certain genes, which results in uncontrolled cell growth. Other chromosome abnormalities can also be present.
CML occurs mainly in adults and is rare in children. According to the American Cancer Society, about 47,000 leukemia cases are expected in the United States in 2012. CML will account for about 5,400 of these cases.
What are the symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia?
Many people do not have symptoms in the early phase of CML. Instead, the leukemia is found during routine blood tests. When people do have symptoms from CML, the following are the most common. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia may resemble other blood disorders or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
How is chronic myelogenous leukemia diagnosed?
In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, diagnostic procedures for chronic myelogenous leukemia may include:
Treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia:
Specific treatment for chronic myelogenous leukemia will be determined by your doctor based on:
Treatment may include:
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