Leukemia Chronic Myelogenous Symptoms

Chronic myelogenous leukemia symptoms in adults often take years to develop. Symptoms of leukemia may be nonexistent in the early stages of the disease. Even in advanced stages, symptoms of leukemia are often vague and resemble those of a wide variety of medical conditions. In many cases, a diagnosis of chronic myelogenous leukemia occurs after abnormalities are detected during routine blood tests.

Symptoms of Leukemia

Symptoms of leukemia develop due to the accumulation of abnormal white blood cells that crowd out healthy blood cells. Anemia may develop as levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin drop. People suffering from anemia often feel tired or “run-down.” As with many leukemia symptoms in adults and children, anemia worsens as the cancer progresses.

As the number of healthy white blood cells in circulation drops, the immune system gradually becomes impaired. Increased risk of infection and fevers are common leukemia symptoms that increase in frequency and severity as chronic myelogenous leukemia moves from the chronic phase into the final “blast crisis” stage. During the blast crisis, levels of immature blood cells build up rapidly, overwhelming healthy blood cells.

As chronic myelogenous leukemia progresses, levels of platelets drop along with other blood cells. Platelets are constituents in the blood that play an important role in blood clotting. Symptoms of leukemia such as easy bruising and bleeding increase in response to low platelet levels.

Leukemia Symptoms and an Enlarged Spleen

Abnormal blast cells can accumulate in the spleen, causing the organ to enlarge, a condition called splenomegaly. People with an enlarged spleen may not notice any symptoms. Symptoms of splenomegaly include a feeling of tenderness, pressure or fullness under the lower left ribs. An enlarged spleen can rupture due to trauma, resulting in dangerous abdominal bleeding.

Vague Symptoms of Leukemia in Adults

Many leukemia symptoms could result from multiple health conditions. Pale skin, fatigue, and loss of appetite can be symptoms of leukemia or many other conditions, including other types of cancer. People with chronic myelogenous leukemia may also experience unexplained weight loss.

People suffering from leukemia symptoms may also develop night sweats. Excessive nighttime sweating can have a number of causes other than leukemia, including menopause and medication side effects.

People in the blast crisis stage of chronic myelogenous leukemia sometimes develop petechiae, or small red “pinprick” marks on the skin.

Leukemia Symptoms and Early Treatment

Chronic myelogenous leukemia symptoms in adults and children may not be noticed until the disease enters its final phases. Early detection of leukemia greatly improves survival chances, so any suspected leukemia symptoms should be reported to health providers as soon as possible. Regular bloods tests can help identify chronic myelogenous leukemia long before symptoms of leukemia develop.


Mayo Clinic Staff. (2008). Chronic myelogenous leukemia. Retrieved September 24, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/chronic-myelogenous-leukemia/DS00564.

National Bone Marrow Donor Program. (2010). Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML), imatinib (gleevec®) and transplant. Retrieved September 24, 2010, from http://www.marrow.org/PATIENT/Undrstnd_Disease_Treat/Lrn_about_Disease/CML/index.html.

National Cancer Institute. (2009). General information about chronic myelogenous leukemia. Retrieved September 24, 2010, from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/CML/patient/.

U.S. Library of Medicine. (2010). Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). Retrieved September 24, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000570.htm.