Leukemia--Chronic Myeloid (Myelogenous) Overview

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Early Detection, Diagnosis, and Staging TOPICS

Signs and symptoms of chronic myeloid leukemia

Many people with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) have no symptoms at the time their cancer is found. In these cases, the cancer is often found by blood tests done for some other reason. Even when there are symptoms, they may be very general.

General symptoms of CML can include the following:

  • Weakness
  • Feeling very tired most of the time (fatigue)
  • Night sweats (that drench the sheets)
  • Weight loss (without trying)
  • Fever
  • Bone pain
  • An enlarged spleen (felt as a mass under the left side of the ribs)
  • Pain or a sense of "fullness" in the belly
  • Feeling full after eating even a small amount of food
  • Bone or joint pain

But these symptoms aren't found only in CML. They can be caused by something other than cancer.

Problems caused by low blood cell counts

Many of the symptoms of CML happen because the leukemia cells crowd out the cells that make blood in the bone marrow. As a result, the person does not have enough blood cells and platelets that are working the way they should.

  • Anemia is a result of a shortage of red blood cells. It can make a person feel short of breath, tired, cold, lightheaded, and weak.
  • Not having enough normal white blood cells (leukopenia) increases the risk of infections. People with leukemia may have very high white blood cell counts, but the cells are not normal and do not fight infections.
  • Not having enough blood platelets can lead to easy bruising, bleeding, frequent or severe nosebleeds, and bleeding gums. Some patients with CML have too many platelets, but the platelets don't work the way they should.

Low blood cell counts are also more often caused by things other than CML. Still, your doctor will want to check to find the cause so it can be treated.


Last Medical Review: 08/13/2013
Last Revised: 02/10/2014