Leukemia Chronic Myelogenous Complications

Chronic myeloid leukemia prognosis is generally positive, presuming the cancer is caught in its early stages. CML complications can develop, however, at any stage. Leukemia complications can make treatment more difficult or worsen chronic myeloid leukemia prognosis. Most leukemia complications result from an overabundance of leukemia cells and a lack of healthy blood cells.

Anemia

Anemia is one of the most common leukemia complications. As abnormal white blood cells accumulate, levels of red blood cells drop, which often results in anemia. Anemia symptoms include tiring easily and feeling fatigued. Anemia may also occur in response to chronic myeloid leukemia treatment.

Thrombocytopenia and Leukemia Complications

CML complications include easy bruising and bleeding. The cancer can cause low levels of platelets, which hinder proper blood clotting. The medical term for low platelet levels is thrombocytopenia. Thrombocytopenia causes several CML complications, including:

  • Uncontrolled bleeding and bruising
  • Gum bleeding
  • Nosebleeds
  • Petechiae (red “pinprick” marks on the skin).

Strokes and Blood Clots

In some cases, leukemia complications cause platelet levels to rise significantly, a condition known as thrombocytosis. Thrombocytosis can result in increased blood clots, heart attacks and strokes and negatively affects chronic myeloid leukemia prognosis.

CML Complications and Pain

Leukemia complications can cause joint and bone pain. Pain develops as white blood cells in the bone marrow accumulate, causing bone marrow to expand and press against the surrounding bone.

Enlarged Spleen

An enlarged spleen is one of the few CML complications that can be discovered during a physical examination. Blood cells are stored in the spleen, which also filters blood. Excess white blood cells cause the spleen to enlarge.

Signs of an enlarged spleen include pain or discomfort just below the left ribs. People with an enlarged spleen may also feel full after eating small amounts of food.

In severe cases, an enlarged spleen ruptures. A ruptured spleen leads to intense pain, dangerous internal bleeding and a risk of infection.

Infections and CML Complications

Infections are common leukemia complications. While CML causes an increase in infection-fighting white blood cells, the leukemia cells do not function properly. Over time, the abnormal cells outnumber healthy white blood cells, weakening the immune system and increasing the risk of infection.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Prognosis and Survival Rates

Chronic myeloid leukemia prognosis was grim before the introduction of imatinib therapy. Survival rates from the time of diagnosis ranged from three to five years, presuming the disease was diagnosed during the chronic phase. Once the disease entered the final stages, death was almost inevitable.

While CML can still be fatal in serious cases, early detection and treatment greatly improves chronic myeloid leukemia prognosis. Chronic myeloid leukemia prognosis remains unfavorable for patients diagnosed in the accelerated or blast phases of the cancer, but even in those cases CML may respond to treatment.

Resources

A.D.A.M. Inc. (2009). Chronic myelogenous leukemia cml. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/chronic-myelogenous-leukemia-cml/overview.html#Possible-Complications.

Cleveland Clinic. (2010). Thrombocytosis. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/Thrombocytosis/hic_Thrombocytosis.aspx.

Health Grades Inc. (2010). Complications of chronic myelogenous leukemia. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://www.wrongdiagnosis.com/c/chronic_myelogenous_leukemia/complic.htm.

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Chronic myelogenous leukemia. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-myelogenous-leukemia/DS00564.

Merck Manuals Online Medical Library. (2008). Spleen disorders. Retrieved September 27, 2010, from http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec14/ch179/ch179a.html.