Dear Cancer Coach: I was diagnosed with CML 3 days ago. I went in for a routine annual physical at work and was told my white blood cell count was high. I had another blood test through my personal
physician – still high, but she thought it might be just a leukemoid reaction to overtraining and stress.
My GP referred me to an oncologist just to rule out leukemia. Of course, the oncologist came back with the CML finding. I’m going in for a bone marrow biopsy Monday. Both doctors assure me that if I had to contract cancer, CML is the “best” one since it’s usually treatable through meds. I’m a 51 year old male who doesn’t smoke. I rarely drink. I eat right and I exercise regularly. My main fear is the side effects of the meds (vomiting, diarrhea, rash etc) and the possibility that it won’t “take”and I’ll have to go through Chemo or a bone marrow transplant.
As we discussed, you are going to get a BMB tomorrow. Also, you have already had a sort of second opinion as I read that two different DR’s dx’ed you for CML. The bmb tomorrow should result in a specific stage and prognosis. As a relatively young, newly dx’ed CML patient with a healthy lifestyle the basic prognosis and epidemiology excerpted below puts you in good shape.
Regarding your concern about side effects of chemotherapy, I did not find much of any posting about side effects from gleevec- “I am doing well on Imatinib, known by the product name Gleevec….” Therefore I would read and consider green tea extract and curcumin (below) as general integrative therapies for leukemia.
Let me know if you have any questions, comments- good luck.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), also known as chronic myeloid leukemia, is a cancer of the white blood cells. It is a form of leukemia characterized by the increased and unregulated growth of predominantly myeloid cells in the bone marrow and the accumulation of these cells in the blood. CML is a clonal bone marrow stem cell disorder in which a proliferation of mature granulocytes (neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils) and their precursors is found. It is a type of myeloproliferative neoplasmassociated with a characteristic chromosomal translocation called the Philadelphia chromosome.
CML is largely treated with targeted drugs called tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKIs) which have led to dramatic improved long-term survival rates since 2001. These drugs have revolutionized treatment of this disease and allow most patients to have a good quality of life when compared to the former chemotherapy drugs. In Western countries, CML accounts for 15–25% of all adult leukemias and 14% of leukemias overall (including the pediatric population, where CML is less common).
A follow-up on patients using imatinib published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2006 showed an overall survival rate of 89% after five years. In 2011, an independent study performed in 832 CML patients worldwide reported that the group of patients who achieve a stable cytogenetic response with imatinib shows an overall survival rate of 95.2% after 8 years, which is similar to the rate in the general population. Only 1% of patients died because of leukemia progression.
CML occurs in all age groups, but most commonly in the middle-aged and elderly. Its annual incidence is 1–2 per 100,000 people, and slightly more men than women are affected. CML represents about 15–20% of all cases of adult leukemia in Western populations. The only well-described risk factor for CML is exposure to ionizing radiation; for example, increased rates of CML were seen in people exposed to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Leukemia is also rarely associated with pregnancy, affecting only about 1 in 10,000 pregnant women. Chronic myelogenous leukemia can be treated with relative safety at any time during pregnancy with Interferon-alpha hormones.