Leukemia Chronic Myelogenous Glossary

Chronic myelogenous leukemia terms can overwhelm someone who has recently been diagnosed with the disease. Patients may find themselves struggling to understand leukemia terms such as “the Philadelphia chromosome” or “imatinib” while also grappling with a cancer diagnosis.

When discussing chronic myelogenous leukemia effects and treatments, the following leukemia terms are often used. Understanding these leukemia terms will help patients understand chronic myelogenous leukemia and its treatment.

Accelerated phase: A transitory phase between chronic myelogenous leukemia’s chronic phase and aggressive blast phase.

Allogenic stem cell transplant: A stem cell transplant using stem cells provided by a donor.

Autologous stem cell transplant: A stem cell transplant that uses stem cells harvested from the patient.

Blast cells: Immature blood cells.

Blast crisis/blast phase: The final phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia, when blast cells accumulate in large numbers and outnumber healthy blood cells.

Bone marrow aspiration: The removal of a sample of bone marrow with a long, narrow needle. The fluid is examined for signs of leukemia.

Chronic myeloid leukemia: Another term for chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Chronic phase: The first phase of chronic myelogenous leukemia. During the chronic phase, the disease progresses slowly, with few symptoms.

Cytogenic analysis: A diagnostic tool that examines cells at the chromosomal level.

Hemoglobin: A substance found in red blood cells that helps transport oxygen through the blood.

Imatinib: Imatinib is a kinase inhibitor that blocks the action of tyrosine kinase proteins, which trigger the reproduction of chronic myelogenous leukemia cells. Imatinib therapy revolutionized chronic myelogenous leukemia treatment, greatly increasing survival rates.

Kinase inhibitor: A medication that blocks the action of kinase proteins. In people with CML, tyrosine kinase stimulates leukemia cell growth. Imatinib was the first kinase inhibitor used to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Leukapheresis: The process of removing excess white blood cells from the body.

Leukocytosis: An abnormal increase of white blood cells

Neutropenia: Low levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell.

Petechiae: Small red pinpricks seen on the skin and caused by bleeding. Petechiae may be a complication of chemotherapy.

Philadelphia chromosome: An abnormal chromosome seen in people with chronic myelogenous leukemia. The Philadelphia chromosome occurs when portions of chromosome 22 switch places with parts of chromosome 9. The Philadelphia chromosome produces the BCR-ABL gene, which triggers the production of white blood cell containing the Philadelphia chromosome. The abnormal white blood cells then produce tyrosine kinase, a protein that stimulates the growth of leukemia cells.

Platelets: Blood cells that cause blood clotting.

Splenomegaly: An enlarged spleen, which may be a symptom of CML.

Thrombocytopenia: Low platelet levels, which leads to easy bleeding and bruising.

Thrombocytosis: High platelet levels, which increases the risk of blood clots and strokes.


Cleveland Clinic (2010). Thrombocytosis. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/thrombocytosis/hic_thrombocytosis.aspx.

Emory University. (2008). Kinase inhibitors. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.cancerquest.org/index.cfm?page=404.

Encyclopedia Britannica. (n.d.) Britannica online encyclopedia. Retrieved October 1, 2010, from http://www.britannica.com.