Chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML) is caused by the constitutively
active tyrosine kinase Bcr-Abl.
Leukemia, a form of cancer, strikes at the patient's bone marrow.
The disease's name literally means "white blood," and
is derived from the fact that in most cases, Leukemia negatively
affects the person's blood cells. Leukemia causes the bone marrow
to create an excessive amount of immature white cells (or blasts)
with an irregular shape. As a result of their irregular shape,
the white cells are not able to carry out their intended functions.
Eventually these white blood cells begin the crowd in the marrow,
and interfere with the production of the various other blood-cell
types. This leads to swelling and pain.
Denying the Symptoms
Part of the problem with Leukemia, as with most any cancer, is
that people are often not diagnosed early enough. This is largely
because when they experience the symptoms, they try to rationalize
them away. So what are the symptoms that should send a warning
signal to people to go to the doctor? There are many, but the
main ones are:
- Regular unexplained tiredness and fatigue
- Malaise - that undefined slight feeling of bodily discomfort
- Unexplained bleeding
- An unusual amount of bruising from just the slightest hits.
- Excessive weakness
- Unexplained drastic weight loss
- Pain in the joints and other bones
- Unexplained fever and infection
- Regular sense of "fullness," even when it's been
a while since you've eaten
- Unusual pain in the abdomen
- Unexplained enlarging of the liver, spleen or lymph nodes
While many of these symptoms apply to several conditions, some
minor, if you experience a few of these, you should consult a
physician. Or if you've noticed these symptoms in a friend or
loved one, gently encourage them to see a doctor. A high percentage
of people survive Leukemia if it's caught early enough. In fact,
in the past half century, the survival rate has more than tripled,
precisely because more people pay attention to the symptoms. But
early detection is key.
Causes of Leukemia
Nobody knows exactly what causes Leukemia. It has been documented
that persons exposed to high levels of benzene at work or to high
amounts of irradiation get Leukemia more often than the regular
population, but nobody has yet been able to explain why. There
has also been some evidence that exposure to formaldehyde can
be a risk factor, but again, there's not explanation why this
Treatment with nilotinib
Last year between 44,000 and 45,000 new cases of bone or marrow
cancer were diagnosed in the United States. What makes Leukemia
all the more tragic is its frequency among children. More than
500 children died from some form of the cancer in 2007.