What Are the Different Types of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Treatment?

Jennifer Long
Jennifer Long
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.
A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment is available in different forms. Targeted therapy focuses on specifically targeting the parts of cancer cells that allow them to grow and multiply into more cancer cells. Bone marrow transplants replace damaged stem cells with new ones that can create healthy white blood cells. Chemotherapy is similar to targeted therapy, killing cancer cells that have grown out of control. Biological therapy can help use the natural immune system functions to slow the reproduction of abnormal white blood cells.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells. Also called chronic granulocytic leukemia (CGL), this disease is a form of leukemia that results in an unregulated increase in the growth of specific cells in bone marrow, called myeloid cells. Bone marrow makes stem cells, which develop into myeloid and lymphoid stem cells. Lymphoid cells become white blood cells and myeloid cells develop into granulocytes, platelets, and red blood cells.

Granulocytes are white blood cells that have the responsibility of fighting off diseases and infection. CML causes too many granulocytes to develop, and they are abnormal. These abnormal cells do not allow room for healthy white blood cells or any other necessary cells that the body needs.

Targeted therapy is one type of chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment. This treatment involves using drugs that are designed to specifically target cancer cells and destroy them without harming healthy cells in the process. In most cases, tyrosine kinase inhibitors are the common drugs used for this purpose. Chemotherapy can also be considered a targeted therapy as well, depending on the location of delivery. Chemotherapy that is injected into the cerebrospinal fluid, body cavity, or organ targets cancer cells only in those areas while chemotherapy that is ingested or injected into muscles or veins targets cancer cells all over the body through the bloodstream.

Another type of chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment is bone marrow transplanting, also called stem cell transplanting. In this treatment, donor stem cells are frozen. High doses of chemotherapy are administered to kill existing blood forming cells. The healthy donor stem cells are infused into the patient, and the body uses the donor’s stem cells to grow new healthy cells.

Biological therapy involves using a patient’s immune system. This treatment is also known as immunotherapy. It uses a synthetic immune system cell called interferon. Doctors and researchers believe interferon works to reduce the growth of the abnormal white blood cells. Biological therapy is often chosen when other treatments have failed or cannot be used.

Depending on the stage of the condition, many types of chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment can be used. Regular testing is done to determine if treatment was successful. Some treatments are cumulative, only working over time and requiring multiple sessions. Other treatments will have a profound immediate effect.

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    • A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.
      A diagram of normal blood and blood from someone with leukemia.