Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) signs and symptoms usually develop slowly.  Some patients learn about their CML after a routine blood test taken during an annual check-up. Some changes that a person with CML may have are:

  • Tiredness
  • hortness of breath doing activities
  • Paler skin than usual
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Night sweats
  • Weight loss


Lab tests are used to make a CML diagnosis and are also to check the patient’s response to treatment. People with CML may need these tests:

  • Blood tests: These are done to look for leukemia cells. In the CML patient, the white blood cell count goes up, often to very high levels. Platelet counts also go up, and hemoglobin levels go down.
  • Bone marrow aspirate or biopsy: This is done to look for leukemia cells and to find out if the person has CML. There are changes in bone marrow cells that cannot be seen in the peripheral blood cells.
  • Cytogenetic analysis: This lab test is done on the peripheral blood as well as the bone marrow. The purpose is to determine if the patient has the Ph chromosome and if the patient has CML.
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH): This method measures the percentage of Ph chromosome (CML) cells.
  • Polymerase chain reaction: This is a very sensitive test that can measure cancer cell markers in the blood. It is used to detect remaining blood cancer cells that are below the level of detection of cytogenetic methods like FISH.