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Doctor Explains CML Definition, Diagnosis and Prognosis

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Published on October 16, 2020

Information for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Patients

What is chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)? What happens after a CML diagnosis? What advice do doctors want to share with newly diagnosed patients? Dr. Ghayas Issa, a medical oncologist at MD Anderson Cancer Center who specializes in the care of patients with leukemia, is here to share the answers to these important questions. He will explain what CML is and how it develops, what steps a patient should take after diagnosis and the typical prognosis for CML.

Transcript | Doctor Explains CML Definition, Diagnosis and Prognosis

Dr. Issa: Seeing the patients always reminds me what is important about research and doing the research and going back to patients allows me to sort of explore new therapies that could benefit a lot of people. So, it's constantly exciting and I always feel like I have the best job in the world.

What Is Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia?

Chronic myeloid leukemia is a type of chronic leukemia and chronic means that it does not necessarily cause problems on the immediate term, but it could turn into more problems in the future. It is myeloid, which is a specific type of blood cells that has started growing or had gone wrong uncontrollably in the body. It is caused by two chromosomes attaching to each other and leading to an on switch that drives these blood cells into high numbers.

What Happens After a Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Diagnosis?

Once diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, you may need a bone marrow biopsy to confirm this diagnosis and some additional tests to investigate this attachment of two chromosomes with each other. And we use these tests to track the disease on the long-term, and we would hope that a year from treatment, those two chromosomes disappear. And when patients get that, they usually live as long as someone who does not have chronic myeloid leukemia. This treatment can be achieved with pills. They have minimal side effects and for now, it is a lifelong treatment.

What Is Your Advice for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Patients?

As a physician who cares for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia, I highly recommend my loved ones, my family to be seen by someone who knows how to manage this disease. Even though the treatment is a pill and relatively safe, it is very important to follow up with a specialist because it's important to track this disease at certain milestones and make sure that everyone is going on track towards remission and eventually not having to worry about chronic myeloid leukemia years from diagnosis.

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