Chronic myeloid leukaemia
Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood. The leukaemia is termed ‘chronic’ because it develops very slowly.
When a patient develops CML, too many white blood cells are produced within their bone marrow. These cells, which are known as blast cells, are released into the blood before they have developed properly and so they do not behave in the way healthy white blood cells do. The over-production of blast cells in the bone marrow also means that other types of blood cells normally found in the blood are not produced.
The information on the following pages relates to adults with CML.
The signs and symptoms of CML vary from patient to patient but may include the following:
- a feeling of exhaustion
- pale skin
- increased bruising of the skin
- a feeling of fullness in the abdomen or a tender lump on the left-hand side of the abdomen due to an enlarged spleen.
Many of these symptoms are caused by the increased numbers of abnormal white blood cells and a decrease in the amount of normal blood cells in the blood stream and the bone marrow.
Feeling tired and looking pale is a sign of a lack of red blood cells (anaemia). Bruising of the skin is a sign of a lack of blood cells called platelets.