Recent advances in the treatments used for chronic myelogenous leukemia have improved the prognosis for the condition considerably. When individuals heed the advice of a medical practitioner that is experienced in managing the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia, the individual may be able to manage the condition for years without serious complications. The goal of treatment for the condition is to destroy all of the cells affected by chronic myelogenous leukemia and return the blood counts to previous normal levels. Individuals have a greater chance of complete recovery if the condition in treated in the chronic stage, but recent medical advances has made all three stages of chronic myelogenous leukemia treatable with current medications and techniques.
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The first line of treatment for all patients diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia is a medication known as Gleevec (imatinib mesylate). This medication has been approved for use in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia by the US Food and Drug Administration since 2001. The medication effectively controls the symptoms and progression of the condition for as long as the individual continues taking the medication in most cases. There is a possibility of the appearance of serious side effects while taking this medication and the medication may not work well for all patients. If this happens to be the case, there are two alternative medications, called Tasigna and Sprycel that the individual may take to relieve the symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia and maintain control of the condition. All of these medications can be taken orally.
Taking these oral medications to control chronic myelogenous leukemia does not cure the condition; it merely places the condition into remission. Individuals will still require regular check-ups with their doctor to ensure that the condition has not returned. Regular blood test will also be needed, as the condition typically does not show symptoms until it is at an advanced stage of the disorder. Taking the medications on a regular basis can allow the individual to be symptom free for long periods of time, perhaps forever, but there is always a chance that chronic myelogenous leukemia will return in full force. Chronic myelogenous leukemia is also likely to return if the individual stops taking the medications for any reason and for any length of time. In some cases, the medications just stop working to control the condition. When this occurs, the individual will need to seek alternative treatments.
An alternate treatment that may be used to control the symptoms and progress of chronic myelogenous leukemia is leukapheresis. With this type of treatment, a machine is used to remove the excess abnormal blood cells from the blood. The high levels of abnormal blood cells in the body can reduce the blood flow to many areas of the body, such as the eyes, lungs, or brain. Medication is generally started once the levels of the different types of blood cells are closer to normal. In rare cases, bone marrow or stem cell transplantation may be used to control the effects of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Bone marrow and stem cell transplantation are the only treatments that have a possibility of curing the condition, but the high risk of many complications and adverse side effects associated with the treatment makes it hard use the treatment on the majority of patients.
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