By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
In the early stages chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) usually leads to little or no symptoms. The condition is typically slowly progressive and it may take years to develop and manifest symptoms.
CML usually affects people between ages 40 and 60 years. It may, however, affect children and persons of any age.
Early symptoms of CML
Some of the earliest symptoms include:-
Tiredness or fatigue – this is one of the symptoms of anemia that is manifested earlier in the course of the disease. Anemia occurs due to lack of adequate red blood cells in the blood stream. It also leads to other symptoms such as pale skin, conjunctiva and nail beds and shortness of breath.
Loss of appetite
Weight loss – most cancers take up much of the body’s nutrients and may lead to unexplained and long term weight loss. CML is no exception
There is enlargement of spleen. The spleen is located in the upper left part of the abdomen. Its swelling may lead to a lump like feeling at the area. This lump is usually painful to touch. The swollen spleen is liable to injury when there is an impact over the abdomen. The swollen spleen also puts pressure over the stomach, causing a lack of appetite and indigestion.
Later symptoms of CML
As the condition progresses the symptoms may become more prominent and troublesome. Some of these include:-
Severe fatigue and tiredness as the anemia progresses
Bone pain - this occurs specifically over the long bones and hips. The bone marrow is a spongy material that lies within long bones and produced stem cells. These stem cells become cancerous in leukemias. The bone marrow thus expands due to uncontrolled proliferation and this leads to bone pain
There may be fever - this could be caused due to lack of mature white blood cells that can fight the infections effectively.
Easy bruising and bleeding tendencies. The stem cells are also responsible for production of platelets - these are cell fragments in the blood that are responsible for normal blood coagulability. A low number of platelets leads to easy bleeding.
Reviewed by April Cashin-Garbutt, BA Hons (Cantab)
Last Updated: Mar 19, 2013