Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood that happens when the genes within the blood cells start to behave the wrong way. Unfortunately, it isn't yet properly understood what sets this cancer off. However, scientists do understand how the condition progresses and becomes chronic.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Development:
Physicians and scientists have uncovered that the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia is a three stage process:
1. The body develops an abnormal chromosome. Each human cell contains 23 chromosome pairs. These hold the DNA, which in turn holds the genes that have control over the body's cells. For those who have chronic myelogenous leukemia, their chromosomes 9 and 22 swap places in part, which leads to an extra long chromosome 9 and an extra short chromosome 22. The latter is known as the "Philadelphia Chromosome", because it was discovered in Philadelphia. This chromosome is also present in around 90% of people who have developed chronic myelogenous leukemia.
2. The Philadelphia chromosome develops a new gene. This gene is known as the BCR-ABL, which instructs the abnormal cells to create high levels of the protein called tyrosine kinase. This protein promotes cancer development, as it allows the out of control growth of some blood cells.
3. Too many diseased cells are permitted to be present by the new gene. All blood cells are created in the bone marrow, which is found in the center part of the bones. In a normally functioning bone marrow, blood stem cells are produced in a controlled manner. These then mature and start to become the necessary blood cells for the proper functioning of the body (platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells). One of the main chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML symptoms, however, is that the BCR-ABL causes the bone marrow to create an excess of white blood cells, almost all of which contain the Philadelphia chromosome. Being diseased, these white cells do not go through a normal cell's lifecycle. Rather, they build up in massive numbers, damaging the bone marrow, and crowding out healthy cells.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia or CML Symptoms:
The most common chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML symptoms are:
– Feeling tired or run down
– Easily bleeds
– Having a low grade fever
– Loss of appetite
– Inexplicable weight loss
– Fullness and pain on the left side of the body, just underneath the ribs
– Night sweats
– Pale skin
Unfortunately, the symptoms of CML can be very difficult to detect, particularly in the early stages of the cancer. People can live with the disease for many months, even years, without knowing they have it. Usually, treatment is most successful when the condition has not progressed far yet. Hence, if you have any persistent chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML symptoms that worry you, you should seek medical attention.
Risk Factors for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia or CML:
There are a number of risk factors that make it more likely for you to have chronic myelogenous leukemia:
– Being older
– Being a man
– Having been exposed to radiation, which includes having had radiation therapy for various cancers.
Family history, however, does not place you at greater risk of CML.