About Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia


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Leukemia is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many of a type of blood cell or abnormal blood cells. In chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), the bone marrow makes too many white blood cells.

Signs & Symptoms

These are signs of CML:

  • Pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side
  • Fever
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Night sweats

Many other health problems can also cause these signs. If you have any of these signs, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Learn more about chronic myelogenous leukemia from the National Cancer Institute.

Image of Blood Cell Development

drawing of blood cell development

Blood cell development. A blood stem cell goes through several steps to become a red blood cell, platelet, or white blood cell.

Specialties & Treatments

The treatment or combination of treatments each patient has depends on the recommendations of the care team and the patient’s wishes. These are the most common types of treatment for CML: 

  • Chemotherapy
  • Chemotherapy with stem cell transplant
  • Donor lymphocyte infusion
  • Biologic therapy
  • Surgery
  • Targeted therapy

Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Hematologic Cancers Program provides comprehensive, compassionate, state-of-the-art care for people with all types of blood cancers and conditions.

Learn more about types of cancer treatments.

Causes & Risk Factors

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean you are sure to get cancer. It means your chances are higher than the average person’s. Talk with your doctor to learn more about your cancer risk.

These are risk factors for CML:

  • Being male
  • Increasing age
  • Exposure to high doses of radiation

Learn more about ways to prevent cancer and about cancer screenings.

Diagnosis & Stages

Diagnosis of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Doctors use these tests to diagnose CML:

  • Physical exam and history: A health care provider examines your body for signs of disease. Your personal health habits, past illnesses, and symptoms help guide the exam.
  • Laboratory tests: By testing body tissues, blood, urine, or other substances in the body, your health care team can check to see how the organs are functioning. They also look for abnormal amounts of blood cells.
  • Bone marrow biopsy: The health care provider removes a small sample of bone marrow to look for abnormal cells under a microscope.
  • Cytogenetic analysis: The health care provider tests blood or bone marrow samples to look for specific changes in the chromosomes of the abnormal cells. The results can help doctors recommend specific treatments.

Stages of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Cancer stages show if cancer has spread in the blood and bone marrow. There are no standard stages for CML. It is classified into phases:

  • Chronic phase: Fewer than 10% of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are immature cells called blast cells.
  • Accelerated phase: 10-19% of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are immature cells called blast cells.
  • Blastic phase: 20% or more of the cells in the blood and bone marrow are immature cells called blast cells.

Learn more about stages of chronic myelogenous leukemia from the National Cancer Institute.