As the world observes World Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Day in September, leading medical experts emphasize the need of creating awareness about the condition, a relatively uncommon type of bone marrow and blood cancer. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia(CML) occurs with an incidence rate of 0.4 to 3.9 per 100,000 patientyears, which increases with age and has a slight male preponderance. It is a chronic disease in which patients must take lifelong treatment and hence, experts stress its appropriate management and adherence to treatment.
CML occurs due to spontaneous chromosome mutation which causes diseased white blood cells to build up in huge numbers, crowding out healthy blood cells and damaging the bone marrow.
Dr Sandeep Jasuja, HOD – Medical Oncology, Sawai Man Singh (SMS) Hospital, Jaipur says, “CML patients are often asymptomatic until the condition becomes severe. More than 50,000 individuals are diagnosed each year, and it has been noted that most of them are 50 years of age or older. Possible symptoms can include a feeling of fullness, unexpected weight loss, abnormal enlargement of the spleen, and fatigue. We have observed that if CML is detected early, 80–90% of the disease’s progression can be stopped. Patients need to understand that CML is not contagious and with modern innovative treatment options, patients have been seen to have a normal life.”
He further added, “A complete blood count (CBC) with peripheral blood smear can be done to understand the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets and their characteristics. Effective treatment adherence and commitment to treatment can prevent CML from returning after remission.”
*Dr Rayaz Ahmed, Senior Consultant, Department of Hemato-Oncology & Bone Marrow Transplant, Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute*mentioned, “CML patientsoften do not showcase any signs and symptoms until the condition becomes severe. However, CML can be diagnosed with a blood test wherein an abnormal white blood cell count might be an indicative sign of the condition. This is followed by a physical exam and bone marrow test. Some of the symptoms, if they do occur, may include fatigue, loss of appetite, weight loss, and easy bleeding. Symptoms of CML typically develop gradually and only in a tiny percentage of people does this transform into an aggressive form of severe leukemia with more severe symptoms. Patients need to bear in mind that CML is not a deadly condition and with modern innovative treatment options, patients have been seen to have a normal life expectancy.”
For CML, regular monitoring and adherence to treatment are essential. According to Dr Ahmed,CML is effectively manageable through consistent treatment. A lack of adherence to treatment protocols can make the condition severe. Therefore, it is recommended that patients continue to take medication as prescribed by their healthcare professional. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are the initial treatment of choice for most people with CML and more than two-thirds of patients achieve long-term control of the disease with this.”
While CML is caused by a genetic mutation in the stem cells, its exact cause is not known. The condition is not hereditary and cannot be passed on to future generations.