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Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) is a form of blood cancer, which affects the white blood cells known as myeloid cells. It is a slowly progressing form of leukaemia.

Blood cells are formed in the bone marrow, which is a spongy tissue found inside the bones. Blood-forming stem cells divide to produce either more stem cells or immature cells that become mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell.

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) affects myeloid-cell-producing stem cells. A myeloid stem cell becomes one of three types of mature blood cells:

People with CML produce too many granulocytes. The granulocytes aren't fully developed and are poorly functioning. Over time, the unhealthy cells accumulate and begin to fill up the bone marrow, preventing it from producing healthy blood cells.

Chronic leukaemia progresses slowly but, although it can be treated, it is not usually possible to cure chronic leukaemia with standard treatments.

  • Published: Aug 2016
  • Next planned review: Aug 2018