Understanding Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

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Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It is a rare form of leukaemia, accounting for approximately 15% of all adult leukaemia cases. CML is characterized by the abnormal growth of white blood cells, specifically the cells that would normally develop into granulocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.

Causes of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

The exact cause of CML is still unknown. However, researchers have identified a genetic abnormality known as the Philadelphia chromosome as a major factor in the development of this condition. The Philadelphia chromosome is a result of a translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22, leading to the fusion of two genes: BCR (breakpoint cluster region) and ABL1 (Abelson tyrosine kinase 1).

This fusion gene, known as BCR-ABL1, produces a protein with unregulated tyrosine kinase activity, causing the abnormal growth of white blood cells. While the presence of the Philadelphia chromosome is a common characteristic of CML, it is important to note that not all individuals with this genetic abnormality will develop the disease.

Symptoms of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia often progresses slowly, and many individuals may not experience any symptoms in the early stages. However, as the disease advances, the following symptoms may become noticeable:

  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal discomfort or fullness
  • Sweating, especially at night
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Recurrent infections

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to consult with a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia

The treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia has evolved significantly in recent years, thanks to advancements in targeted therapies. The primary goal of treatment is to eliminate or control the abnormal white blood cells and achieve a remission. The treatment options for CML include:

  1. Targeted Therapy: The introduction of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) has revolutionized the treatment of CML. TKIs work by blocking the activity of the BCR-ABL1 protein, effectively reducing the number of abnormal white blood cells. These medications are usually taken orally and have shown remarkable success in managing CML.
  2. Stem Cell Transplantation: In some cases, a stem cell transplant may be recommended, especially for individuals who do not respond well to targeted therapy or have a high-risk CML. This procedure involves replacing the diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells from a compatible donor.
  3. Chemotherapy: While not commonly used as the primary treatment for CML, chemotherapy may be prescribed in certain situations, such as when targeted therapy is not effective or if the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.

It is important to note that the choice of treatment will depend on several factors, including the stage of the disease, the presence of certain genetic mutations, and the overall health of the individual.


Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia is a complex disease that requires a comprehensive understanding of its causes, symptoms, and treatment options. With advancements in targeted therapies, many individuals diagnosed with CML can now live longer and enjoy a good quality of life. If you suspect any symptoms or have concerns about your health, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Early detection and appropriate treatment can make a significant difference in managing this condition.


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