In CML, too many blood stem cells become a type of white blood cell called granulocytes. These granulocytes are abnormal
and do not become healthy white blood cells. They are also called leukemia
cells. The leukemia cells can build up in the blood and bone marrow so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. When this happens, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.
This summary is about chronic myelogenous leukemia. See the
summaries for more information about leukemia:
Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side.
Sometimes CML does not cause any symptoms at all.
Most people with CML have a gene mutation (change) called the Philadelphia chromosome.
Every cell in the body contains DNA
material) that determines how the cell looks and acts. DNA is contained inside chromosomes. In CML, part of the DNA from one chromosome moves to another chromosome. This change is called the “ Philadelphia chromosome.” It results in the bone marrow making an enzyme, called tyrosine kinase, that causes too many stem cells to become white blood cells (granulocytes or blasts).
The Philadelphia chromosome is not passed from parent to child.
Tests that examine the blood and bone marrow are used to detect
(find) and diagnose chronic myelogenous leukemia.
The following tests and procedures may be used:
and history: An exam of the body to check general signs of health, including checking for signs of disease such as an enlarged spleen. A history of the patient’s health habits and past illnesses and treatments will also be taken.
The portion of the blood sample made up of red blood cells.
Blood chemistry studies: A procedure in which a blood sample is checked to measure the amounts of certain substances released into the blood by organs
and tissues in the body. An unusual (higher or lower than normal) amount of a substance can be a sign of disease.
One of the following tests may be done on the samples of blood or bone marrow tissue that are removed:
analysis: A test in which cells in a sample of blood or bone marrow are viewed under a microscope to look for certain changes in the chromosomes, such as the Philadelphia chromosome.
(fluorescence in situ hybridization): A laboratory technique used to look at genes
or chromosomes in cells and tissues. Pieces of DNA that contain a fluorescent dye are made in the laboratory and added to cells or tissues on a glass slide. When these pieces of DNA bind to specific genes or areas of chromosomes on the slide, they light up when viewed under a microscope with a special light.