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Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Jocelyn D'Antonio
CJON 2005, 9(5), 535-538 DOI: 10.1188/05.CJON.535-538

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) represents about 14% of all leukemias and occurs with a frequency of about 1 in 100,000. It is rare in children. Symptoms include fatigue, weight loss, sweating, and abdominal discomfort from an enlarged spleen. The white blood cell count can range from 100-600 ul. CML has three phases: the chronic phase, accelerated phase, and blast phase. Most patients are diagnosed during the chronic phase. Ionizing radiation has been implicated in some cases of CML, but in most individuals no cause is known. The Philadelphia chromosome, an acquired genetic mutation represented by a translocation of chromosome 22 and chromosome 9, drives the leukemic changes in CML. Imatinib mesylate, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor, was approved in 2002 for the treatment of all phases of CML. Because of its effectiveness, imatinib has become the treatment of choice for most patients with CML. Stem cell transplantation also is an option for eligible patients. It is the only curative treatment for CML. Two drugs under study for patients who cannot tolerate or who become resistant to imatinib are BMS-354825 and AMN107. Oncology nurses who are knowledgeable about new therapies for CML can be effective resources for their patients.

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