Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a condition affecting the bone marrow and blood cells, causing rapid reproduction and unregulated growth of abnormal blood cells. The condition affects a certain type of blood cells called granulocytes and actually corrupts the chromosomes of the cell.
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Chronic myelogenous leukemia causes the cell to grow out of control and multiply rapidly, crowding out the healthy blood cells needed by the body to perform certain functions. Also known as chronic granulocytic leukemia, chronic myelogenous leukemia can be diagnosed in one of three stages. The first stage is called the chronic stage and is the stage where the condition first begins to develop. Individuals are typically asymptomatic or have mild symptoms while in this stage. The second stage is called accelerated stage. It is in this stage that chronic myelogenous leukemia begins to show adverse symptoms and begins to become a health crisis for the individual affected. The last stage is called the blast crisis stage. The blast crisis stage is considered the terminal stage and requires immediate medical attention to preserve the health and life of the individual affected.
Chronic myelogenous leukemia can affect individuals of any age, but is most common in individuals over the age of 45 years old. Around 20% of all adult leukemia cases can be attributed to the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. It is estimated that nearly 5,000 individuals are diagnosed with the condition annually. The condition affects more men than women, but only slightly more. The risk factors for the condition are largely unknown but there have been several agents identified as possible risk factors for the development of chronic myelogenous leukemia. One risk factor associated with the development of the condition is exposure to high levels of radiation, such as those associated with the survivors of the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Another risk factor for the condition is long term exposure to high levels of carcinogenic chemicals, such as benzene. Individuals that work in industries that use large amounts of benzene in production or as an industrial solvent have a greater risk of developing chronic myelogenous leukemia than the general public.
The typical symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia usually do not appear until weeks or months after the condition has begun to develop. Many individuals are diagnosed with the condition while still asymptomatic after abnormal test results from a routine blood test are received. The initial symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia are common of many other conditions and extensive testing will need to be done to discover the exact cause of the appearance of symptoms. Some of the initial symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia may include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, increased infections, anemia, easy bruising, and wounds that take an extended period of time to heal. In some cases, the abnormal blood cells begin to collect in the liver or spleen of the patient, causing swelling and discomfort.
The treatment used for cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia is dependent on the stage in which the condition is diagnosed in. Chemotherapy is a commonly used treatment for the condition and is well tolerated by many of the individuals that receive it. There are many medications that can be used for chemotherapy and combining several of them strengthens the effect of all of them. Bone marrow transplantation may be a viable treatment option for individuals that are diagnosed in the chronic stage of the condition who are young and possess good health. This treatment has a high risk of complications and requires a lengthy recovery period so it is not used very often. Some cases of chronic myelogenous leukemia that go into remission experience a relapse within a few years so further rounds of treatment may be necessary.
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