also called CMML

Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia is a disease in which too many myelocytes and monocytes (immature white blood cells) are made in the bone marrow.

In CMML, the body tells too many bone marrow stem cells to develop into two types of white blood cells called myelocytes and monocytes. Some of these bone marrow stem cells never become mature white blood cells. These immature white blood cells, called blasts, are unable to do their usual work. Over time, the myelocytes, monocytes, and blasts crowd out the red blood cells and platelets in the bone marrow. When this happens, infection, anemia, or easy bleeding may occur.

Older age and being male increase the risk of developing chronic myelomonocytic leukemia.

Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Possible risk factors for CMML include the following:

  • Older age.
  • Being male.
  • Being exposed to certain substances at work or in the environment.
  • Being exposed to radiation.
  • Past treatment with certain anticancer drugs.

Possible signs of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia include fever, feeling very tired, and weight loss.

These and other symptoms may be caused by CMML. Other conditions may cause the same symptoms. A doctor should be consulted if any of the following problems occur:

  • Fever for no known reason.
  • Infection.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
  • Easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs.

Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options for CMML depend on the following:

  • The number of white blood cells or platelets in the blood or bone marrow.
  • Whether the patient is anemic.
  • The amount of blasts in the blood or bone marrow.
  • The amount of hemoglobin in red blood cells.
  • Whether there are certain changes in the chromosomes.

Four types of standard treatment are used:

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly into the spinal column, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated. Combination chemotherapy is treatment using more than one anticancer drug.

Other drug therapy

13-cis retinoic acid is a vitamin-like drug that slows the cancer's ability to make more cancer cells and changes the way these cells look and act.

Stem cell transplant

Stem cell transplant is a method of replacing blood-forming cells that are destroyed by chemotherapy. Stem cells (immature blood cells) are removed from the blood or bone marrow of the patient or a donor and are frozen and stored. After the chemotherapy is completed, the stored stem cells are thawed and given back to the patient through an infusion. These reinfused stem cells grow into (and restore) the body's blood cells.

Supportive care

Supportive care is given to lessen the problems caused by the disease or its treatment. Supportive care may include transfusion therapy or drug therapy, such as antibiotics to fight infection.

 

Source:  National Cancer Institute