Chronic myeloid leukaemia

Chronic myeloid leukaemia

What is chronic myeloid leukaemia?

Chronic leukaemia develops when white blood cells grow out of control. The abnormal white cells live too long, and because they are immature and abnormal, they don’t carry out their infection-fighting function. Abnormal white blood cells crowd out the normal white cells, which increases the risk of infection.

There are two main types of chronic leukaemia, depending on what type of white blood cell is involved: chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL).

Read more about chronic myeloid leukaemia.

Chronic myeloid leukaemia symptoms

CML is difficult to detect in the early stages because the symptoms tend to be mild at first and get worse slowly. Symptoms may include:

  • tiredness
  • weight loss
  • swollen lymph glands in the neck, underarms or groin
  • frequent and persistent infections
  • bruising or bleeding from a low platelet count.

Chronic myeloid leukaemia statistics

  • About 280 people are diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) annually.
  • It is more common in adults over the age of 50, who account for 70% of all cases.
  • CML occurs more frequently in men than in women.
  • It is rare in children with around 4 cases diagnosed per year in children aged less than 14.

Because most patients with CML and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia live for many years after treatment, the number of patients surviving with the disease is increasing.

The aim of this information is to help you understand about chronic myeloid leukaemia. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.