Treatment of Children With Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

This leukemia is rare in children, but it does occur. Treatment in children is similar to what is used for adults.

Targeted drugs, such as imatinib (Gleevec), dasatinib (Sprycel), and nilotinib (Tasigna), attack cells with the Philadelphia chromosome, which is the key gene abnormality in CML cells. These drugs are usually very good at controlling CML, often for long periods of time and with less severe side effects than chemotherapy drugs. However, these drugs do not seem to cure CML when used alone, and they must be taken every day.

Imatinib is usually the drug tried first. If it doesn’t work or if it becomes less effective over time, another drug may be tried. If targeted drugs are no longer helpful, high-dose chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant offers the best chance for a cure. Doctors are now studying whether adding targeted drugs to stem cell transplant regimens can help increase cure rates.

For more information on CML and its treatment, see Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.

The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and master's-prepared nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.

Last Medical Review: April 17, 2015 Last Revised: March 23, 2018

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