Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Questions for Your Doctor
What phase of CML am I in?
Do I need any more tests to be sure?
Have you treated someone with CML before?
What treatment do you recommend for me?
How will the treatment make me feel?
What if the treatment doesn’t work?
Will my insurance cover the costs of my treatment?
How do I find the support services I need?
How do I connect with other people with CML?
Treatment aims to kill the sick blood cells in your body, and restore healthy ones to a normal level. It’s not usually possible to get rid of all the damaged cells.
Getting treatment during the early, chronic phase of CML can help prevent the disease from moving to a more serious level.
Doctors usually give drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) first. They slow down the production of leukemia cells.
TKIs commonly used include:
You may get Bosulif (bosutinib) and Iclusig (ponatinib) if other drugs don't help or make you too sick.
Synribo (omacetaxine mepesuccinate) is for people whose disease continues to get worse after they have used two or more TKIs.
Other CML treatment options include chemotherapy; and biologic therapy, which helps stimulate your immune system with interferon, a version of an immune system cell that’s made in a lab.
A stem cell transplant might cure some patients. Stem cell transplant is a complicated and risky procedure that is usually done only when other treatment options have failed. You need a donor whose stem cells closely match your own.
Make sure your doctor is aware of any medicines you may be taking. Some don’t interact well with the treatments for CML.
Follow your doctor’s treatment plan, eat healthy, and exercise when you feel up to it.
What to Expect
While this is a serious illness, it’s a slow-growing form of cancer. It’s hard to get rid of completely, but many people live long lives with it.
Once you're diagnosed, you should see a hematologist-oncologist, a doctor with special training in blood diseases, especially cancer. This doctor will come up with a treatment plan for you.
Get a second opinion if you feel you want one, and reach out for the support you need.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society can help you find services and support. It has up-to-date information about treating and living with CML, including help for caregivers.