The aim of treatment is to put chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) into remission and to maintain the remission. Remission means there are no signs of leukaemia cells in your blood or bone marrow, and you feel well. There are different levels of remission.
Remission can usually be maintained for many years – people with CML usually live a normal life-span.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs)
If you have a very high level of white blood cells in your blood when you are first diagnosed, you may be given chemotherapy tablets for a few days. This is usually only until the doctors check that a TKI will work for you.
Occasionally chemotherapy is used if CML is in the blast phase. A combination of 3 or 4 drugs are given into a vein (intravenously)
Stem cell transplant
If other treatments have not worked, occasionally some people are given interferon alpha in the chronic phase. Interferon alpha is an immunotherapy drug. Doctors may also use it for women who need treatment and are pregnant or want to become pregnant.
You may be invited to take part in a clinical trial of a new treatment for CML.
Reducing a high level of white blood cells in the blood
Some cancer treatments can affect fertility or harm a developing baby. Because of this you may be advised to use contraception to prevent a pregnancy. If you want to have children or think you may in the future, talk to your doctor about this as soon as possible. They can talk to you about the possible options for planning your treatment.