Leukemia Chronic Myelogenous Side Effect

Cancer treatment side effects range from mild annoyances to serious medical emergencies. Treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is no different. Fortunately, CML treatment side effects can be managed, especially when patients take an active role in their own care.

Chemotherapy Cancer Treatment Side Effects

Chemotherapy is one possible CML treatment. Chemotherapy drugs kill fast-growing cells. Unfortunately, chemotherapy also kills fast-growing healthy cells. Cells in hair follicles, the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system are most often affected by chemotherapy.

Cancer treatment side effects caused by chemotherapy can often be controlled. For example, hair loss is a common chemotherapy complication. In most cases, hair loss is temporary, and hair will grow back after treatment. Some people chose to cut long hair prior to CML treatment to reduce the effect of hair loss, and may keep a lock of hair to match colors if they chose to wear wigs. Others prefer to wears bandanas, hats or scarves.

CML treatment involving chemotherapy can also dry the skin. Using a moisturizing shampoo and mineral oil can help control dry, itchy scalps during treatment of CML.

Infections and CML Treatment

An increased risk of infection accompanies several CML treatments. Patients can minimize infection risk by taking the following steps:

Avoid crowds and public placesAvoid cuts from scissors, knives or razorsAvoid people with contagious diseaseCheck with doctors before getting any immunizationsClean any scrapes or cuts with soap, warm water and an antisepticPractice regular hand washingUse lotions to prevent dry skin from crackingUse soft toothbrushes to prevent gum injuriesWear gloves if dealing with soil, pets or other possible sources of infection.

Gastrointestinal Side Effects

CML treatment can cause nausea and vomiting. Medication can help relieve such symptoms. Diarrhea and constipation are also common cancer treatment side effects. Diarrhea requires prompt medical treatment, as it can cause dehydration.

CML Treatment with Imatinib

Imatinib treatment for CML generally produces less serious side effects than chemotherapy. However, treatment with imatinib and other targeted cancer drugs may cause swelling of the skin, a rash, upset stomach, muscle cramps, fatigue and diarrhea. As with chemotherapy, report all imatinib cancer treatment side effects to health professionals.

Depression and CML Treatment

A diagnosis of cancer may trigger depression in some people. According to the National Cancer Institute (2010), 15 to 25 percent of cancer patients experience some degree of depression. Anxiety and symptoms of depression during treatment of CML should be reported to your doctor.

Active Participation in CML Treatment

Someone undergoing CML treatment can take an active role in his own care by eating a healthy diet, getting sufficient rest and seeking emotional support. Report any cancer side effect treatment side effects to doctors, even if the complaint seems minor. Should unpleasant side effects develop, don’t stop treatment without consulting a doctor. Generally, the benefit of CML treatment outweighs the inconvenience and discomfort of side effects.


Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (2007). Understanding drug therapy and managing side effects. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from http://www.leukemia-lymphoma.org/attachments/National/br_1171992654.pdf.

Macmillan Cancer Support. (2009). Imatinib (glivec®). Retrieved September 29, 2010, from http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertreatment/

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Chronic myelogenous leukemia. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-myelogenous-leukemia/DS00564.

National Cancer Institute. (2010). Depression. Retrieved September 29, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/depression/Patient/page2.