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Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

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Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Definition

Definition

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. With CML, the bone marrow makes abnormal blood cells including:

  • Myeloblasts—a type of white blood cell, fight infection
  • Red blood cells (RBCs)—carry oxygen
  • Platelets—makes blood clot, stops bleeding in cuts or bruises

CML progresses gradually. It is often slow growing for many years. Eventually, it may transform itself into acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). This is a more aggressive type of leukemia. It progresses much more rapidly and is more serious.

Cancer occurs when cells in the body become abnormal. They divide without control or order. Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells and their parent cells. Leukemia cells do not function normally. They cannot do what normal blood cells do. In this case they can not fight infections. This means that the person is more likely to become infected with viruses or bacteria. The cancerous cells also overgrow the bone marrow. This forces other normal components, like platelets out. Platelets are needed to help the blood clot. As a results people with leukemia may bleed more easily.

White Blood Cells

White Blood Cells
© 2009 Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

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