Many good CML treatments can help control your disease so you can lead a normal life. To find the best treatment for you, you'll work closely with a specialist called a hematologist-oncologist, a doctor with special training in blood diseases such as cancer.
The goal in treating CML is to destroy cells that contain the BCR-ABL gene, which leads to too many abnormal white blood cells.
Many types of leukemia produce no obvious symptoms in the early stages. Eventually, symptoms may include any of the following:
Anemia and related symptoms, such as fatigue, pallor, and a general feeling of illness.
A tendency to bruise or bleed easily, including bleeding from the gums or nose, or blood in the stool or urine.
Susceptibility to infections such as sore throat or bronchial pneumonia, which may be accompanied by headache, low-grade fever, mouth sores, or skin rash.
Your CML treatment will probably start with a type of drug called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). TKIs block tyrosine kinase, the protein made by the BCR-ABL gene that leads to too many abnormal blood cells. Your doctor will likely prescribe a TKI such as bosutinib (Bosulif), dasatinib (Sprycel), imatinib (Gleevec), nilotinib (Tasigna), or ponatinib (Iclusig).
Most people respond to these drugs quickly. Your doctor should know within 3 to 6 months if your treatment is working.
If your CML progresses after being treated with two or more other TKIs, your doctor may switch you to omacetaxine mepesuccinate (Synribo). It helps stop the growth of cancerous cells. It’s given by injection under the skin.
You may go into remission while you're taking a TKI. That means that the abnormal gene is no longer in your cells. It doesn't mean that you're cured -- just that your CML is under control.
Always tell your doctor about any side effects or new symptoms.