Then & Now: Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Growing Scientific Understanding Drives Transformative Advances in Treatment

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is a rare form of blood cancer that most commonly affects adults in their 40s and 50s. In patients with CML, abnormal blood cells (leukemia cells) crowd out normal white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets, preventing the body from carrying out normal cellular and immune functions. Approximately 5,900 cases of CML are diagnosed each year in the U.S. In 2001, the first tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) was approved, marking an important shift to targeted therapy for this devastating cancer.

Following the introduction of this revolutionary medicine, survival rates nearly tripled for CML patients. Yet, there still remained a need for additional treatment options for CML patients as the medicine did not work for every patient, and in some cases, those who may have responded initially to therapy developed resistance later on. Over the last decade, a variety of new medicines have become available for patients, offering important treatment options. A new report examines the important advances that have been made in the last ten years, as new medicines continue to transform the outlook for CML patients.