Living With Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Chronic myeloid leukemia patients experience disturbing symptoms while undergoing treatment

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) People diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) are living longer than ever before. A number of effective therapies are available for all phases of the disease, but living with CML has its challenges.

The standard of care for treating CML is tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy, which can be lifesaving. It’s not unusual for CML patients being treated with these medicines to experience a number of symptoms, some of which can interfere with daily functioning, a new study has found.

"Ask your doctor for help in overcoming treatment-related symptoms."

Researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center looked at the types and functional impact of symptoms CML patients were experiencing. Loretta A Williams, PhD, RN, in the MD Anderson Department of Symptom Research, directed the study.

A total of 156 CML patients were enrolled in the study. The average age of patients was 51. Most patients had been diagnosed with CML six years before study enrollment and had been on TKI therapy for just over four years.

In most patients, the disease was well controlled by the therapy.

Patients were asked to rate 20 symptom items using the MD Anderson Symptom Inventory for CML every two weeks for a year. Symptoms were rated according to severity and interference with daily activities using a 0-10 scale, with 0 meaning not present and no interference and 10 indicating the worst possible with total interference.

Patients reported that fatigue was persistently the worst symptom. Sleep disturbances came next, followed by drowsiness, muscle cramping and memory problems.

The worst symptoms, the researchers found, interfered most with work, then general activity and mood.

The researchers concluded, “Symptoms and their interference with daily functioning can be easily documented by routine assessment and deserve consideration in long-term treatment planning for these patients, as they may interfere with patient compliance with TKI therapy and affect quality of life for survivors with CML.”

This research was presented at the 2012 American Society of Hematology (ASH) conference. All research is considered preliminary before it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Review Date: 
February 13, 2013
Last Updated:
February 14, 2013