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Chronic myeloid leukemia


Leukemias are cancerous malignant blood diseases, characterized by an abnormal proliferation of the cells found in bone marrow. Chronic myeloid leukemia is a specific type of leukemia, where the proliferation of bone marrow cells predominates on a kind of white blood cell, called a monocyte. We use the term "predominates", because in this kind of leukemia, other cell types can also proliferate in smaller proportions. This disease particularly affects patients from over the age of 55 and is more common in men. The course is long, and the disease can sometimes evolve into acute leukemia. In the absence of treatment after an initial phase of a relatively stable few years, the evolution is faster for about a year, and acute leukemia appears.


In chronic myeloid leukemia, the disease is often responsible for no initial symptoms. It may be discovered during a blood test performed for another reason. In other cases, it can cause:
  • an increase in the size of the spleen, called splenomegaly;
  • an increase in the size of the liver, called hepatomegaly;
  • bone pain, bleeding or infection in advanced stages.


Suspicion of chronic myeloid leukemia is highlighted following a blood count analysis performed on a blood sample. An analysis of the bone marrow is possible, as well as various specialized examinations to highlight a characteristic abnormality. In fact, the modification of a chromosome, called the Philadelphia chromosome, that loses part of its structure, is specific to the disease and can be found with a karyotype (analysis of the chromosomes of a cell).


The treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia based on specific drugs, including a molecule whose trade name is Gleevec ®, which, however, does not cure the disease. The only curative treatment is based on hematopoietic stem cells, or on bone marrow cells taken from a healthy donor and implanted into the patient's body.

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