CML is most commonly known as “Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia” or “Chronic Myeloid Leukemia” (WAY easier to say!), but it is also known as “Chronic Granulocytic Leukemia” and “Chronic Myelocytic Leukemia.”
CML is a complex blood and bone marrow cancer. Here is very brief explanation about what it is, what it does, how it’s treated and what the risk factors are, in my words, that are hopefully easy for you to understand.
A genetic mutation of Chromosomes 9 and 22 cause the rare blood and bone marrow cancer that affects the white blood cells, CML. This is known as a translocation and it results in a Chromosome 22 that is shorter than normal. This new abnormal chromosome is known as the Philadelphia chromosome. The Philadelphia Chromosome is found in the leukemia cells of almost all patients with CML. However, there are some exceptions.
The swapping of DNA between the chromosomes leads to the formation of a new gene (an oncogene) called BCR-ABL. This gene then produces the BCR-ABL protein, which is the type of protein called a tyrosine kinase. This protein causes CML cells to grow and reproduce out of control.
There is no treatment that can cure CML, but most patients are successfully treated with targeted therapy TKIs (tyrosine kinase inhibitors) and survival rates have improved significantly thanks to these life saving drugs. I’m not going to lie… they are EXPENSIVE and unfortunately not all patients respond favourably to treatment and will need a Bone Marrow Transplant (BMT) / Stem Cell Transplant (SCT) as a last resort. Although BMT/SCTs can cure a patient of this disease, the procedure is super dangerous and invasive. There is also a chance that the CML will relapse after the transplant.
There are no known risk factors, causes or ways to prevent this type of cancer. Being exposed to high dose radiation MAY be a risk factor, but that has not been proven.
Excellent sources for all of this information can be found all over the world wide web. Just google “CML” if you want to learn more. I won’t list any specific sources because I do not want to be affiliated with any specific organization. They are all awesome and wonderful.