Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is one of blood diseases called “myeloproliferative disorders”, a group of medical conditions causing blood cells – platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells – to grow abnormally. Therefore, CML is characterized by a persistent and excessive production inthe bone marrow of white blood cells (also known leukocytes). Most of these white blood cellsare abnormal (or immature), given their development is not completed.
Chronic myeloid leukemia is related to the appearance of an abnormal fusion of twochromosomes of bone marrow stem cells, which gives rise to a small abnormal chromosome called Philadelphia chromosome. This anomaly results from the assembly error by a gene on chromosome 9, named ABL, with a gene on chromosome 22, called BCR. This produces the saidgene BCR-ABL which is present only in cells of chronic myeloid leukemia. This gene (BCR-ABL) produces abnormally enzyme, tyrosine kinase, which is itself responsible for the increasedproduction of white blood cells.
Chronic myeloid leukemia symptoms can go unnoticed for years at the beginning due to the fact the disease generally progresses slowly. It often remains asymptomatic during the first month orthe first years of its development. The onset is insidious and some cases are discoveredincidentally during a routine blood count in apparently healthy people.
As general chronic myeloid leukemia symptoms, patients can experience fatigue, fever, sweating, loss of appetite, sometimes shortness of breath(dyspnea). Some subjects may initiallyhave symptoms of hyperthyroidism, causing the thyroid gland to produce too much of the hormone thyroxine. There is indeed an increased metabolic rate, but this is often a result ofuncontrolled proliferationof immature blood cells(leukemic proliferation).
Symptoms related to proliferationof immature blood cells
Anemia and tendency to infections may not be experienced during the first months of evolutionof the disease the fact that white blood cells are functional, but later in advanced stages.Instead, patients tend to complain of a tendency to bleeding: bleeding gums (gingival bleeding),bleeding from the nose (epistaxis), red or purple discolorations on the skin (purpura), dental extraction complications, and others.
Symptoms related to Complications
- a)The spleen becomes enlarged (splenomegaly):it sometimes reaches the left iliac fossa, causing a mass, which can be hard and painless.
b) The lymph nodes are not enlarged in the majority of cases, but it case it does (lymphadenopathy), this is a sign of serious complications; the patient needs to see his doctor immediately.
c) The liver is often somewhat increased in size, at least at advanced stage.
d) The bones can be painful, either spontaneously or when being pressured.In general, patients with chronic myeloid leukemia have one of some of these signs and symptoms:
- General Malaise
- Lack of appetite
- Pale complexion
- Discomfort in the left side of the belly
- Sweating, especially at night
- Weight loss without being on diet
- Significant discomfort in hot weather
- Inclination or tendency to bleed
- Shortness of breath associated with simple activity.
But these symptoms are not specific to chronic myeloid leukemia. Only a health professional can perform specific tests to diagnose CML.