Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) can cause a variety of complications, including:

  • Fatigue. If diseased white blood cells crowd out healthy red blood cells, anemia may result. Anemia can make you feel tired and worn down. Treatment for CML also can cause a drop in red blood cells.
  • Excess bleeding. Blood cells called platelets help control bleeding by plugging small leaks in blood vessels and helping your blood to clot. A shortage of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia) can result in easy bleeding and bruising, including frequent or severe nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums, or tiny red dots caused by bleeding into the skin (petechiae).
  • Pain. CML can cause bone pain or joint pain as the bone marrow expands when excess white blood cells build up.
  • Enlarged spleen. Some of the extra blood cells produced when you have CML are stored in the spleen. This can cause the spleen to become swollen or enlarged. The swollen spleen takes up space in your abdomen and makes you feel full even after small meals or causes pain on the left side of your body below your ribs.
  • Infection. White blood cells help the body fight off infection. Although people with CML have too many white blood cells, these cells are often diseased and don't function properly. As a result, they aren't able to fight infection as well as healthy white cells can. In addition, treatment can cause your white cell count to drop too low (neutropenia), also making you vulnerable to infection.
  • Death. If CML can't be successfully treated, it ultimately is fatal.
Jan. 17, 2014