HealthTree Logo
search more_vert
close
person Sign In / Create Account

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is not staged in the traditional sense like most cancers. Instead, it is classified into three phases based on the number of immature white blood cells (blasts) in the blood or bone marrow, and the severity of symptoms. These phases are the chronic phase, the accelerated phase, and the blast phase (also known as blast crisis).

Chronic Phase

In the chronic phase, less than 10% of the cells in the blood or bone marrow are blasts. Patients in this phase may have few or no symptoms. The chronic phase can last for several years, and the disease can be controlled well to a treatment called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Since tyrosine kinase inhibitors have become the first-line therapy for CML, the 5-year survival rate has risen from 33% to over 90%. Individuals diagnosed with chronic phase CML are expected to reach normal or near-normal life expectancy.

Accelerated Phase

The accelerated phase is characterized by the presence of 10% to 19% blasts in the blood or bone marrow. Symptoms may become more severe, and the disease becomes harder to control. This phase indicates that the disease is progressing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines accelerated phase CML as having one or more of the following criteria:

  • Persistent or increasing high white blood cell count (greater than 10 x 10^9/L) unresponsive to therapy
  • Persistent or increasing spleen enlargement unresponsive to therapy
  • Persistently high platelet count (greater than 1000 x 10^9/L) unresponsive to therapy
  • Persistent low platelet count (less than 100 x 10^9/L)
  • Greater than or equal to 20% basophils in peripheral blood
  • 10-19% blasts in peripheral blood or bone marrow
  • Additional chromosomal abnormalities in Philadelphia chromosome-positive cells at diagnosis
  • Any new clonal chromosomal abnormality in Philadelphia chromosome-positive cells during therapy

The WHO also considers resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors as provisional criteria for determining accelerated phase CML.

Blast Phase

The blast phase, or blast crisis, is the most severe phase of CML. It is characterized by the presence of 20% or more blasts in the blood or bone marrow. Symptoms are often severe, and the disease is difficult to control. Patients in blast phase often have a fever, an enlarged spleen, weight loss, and generally feel unwell. This phase is similar to acute leukemia.

Want to Learn More About Chronic Myeloid Leukemia?

Keep reading HealthTree for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia's 101 pages!

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is not staged in the traditional sense like most cancers. Instead, it is classified into three phases based on the number of immature white blood cells (blasts) in the blood or bone marrow, and the severity of symptoms. These phases are the chronic phase, the accelerated phase, and the blast phase (also known as blast crisis).

Chronic Phase

In the chronic phase, less than 10% of the cells in the blood or bone marrow are blasts. Patients in this phase may have few or no symptoms. The chronic phase can last for several years, and the disease can be controlled well to a treatment called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Since tyrosine kinase inhibitors have become the first-line therapy for CML, the 5-year survival rate has risen from 33% to over 90%. Individuals diagnosed with chronic phase CML are expected to reach normal or near-normal life expectancy.

Accelerated Phase

The accelerated phase is characterized by the presence of 10% to 19% blasts in the blood or bone marrow. Symptoms may become more severe, and the disease becomes harder to control. This phase indicates that the disease is progressing.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines accelerated phase CML as having one or more of the following criteria:

  • Persistent or increasing high white blood cell count (greater than 10 x 10^9/L) unresponsive to therapy
  • Persistent or increasing spleen enlargement unresponsive to therapy
  • Persistently high platelet count (greater than 1000 x 10^9/L) unresponsive to therapy
  • Persistent low platelet count (less than 100 x 10^9/L)
  • Greater than or equal to 20% basophils in peripheral blood
  • 10-19% blasts in peripheral blood or bone marrow
  • Additional chromosomal abnormalities in Philadelphia chromosome-positive cells at diagnosis
  • Any new clonal chromosomal abnormality in Philadelphia chromosome-positive cells during therapy

The WHO also considers resistance to tyrosine kinase inhibitors as provisional criteria for determining accelerated phase CML.

Blast Phase

The blast phase, or blast crisis, is the most severe phase of CML. It is characterized by the presence of 20% or more blasts in the blood or bone marrow. Symptoms are often severe, and the disease is difficult to control. Patients in blast phase often have a fever, an enlarged spleen, weight loss, and generally feel unwell. This phase is similar to acute leukemia.

Want to Learn More About Chronic Myeloid Leukemia?

Keep reading HealthTree for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia's 101 pages!

Get the latest thought leadership on Chronic Myeloid Leukemia delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to the weekly "HealthTree Community for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Newsletter" for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia news, life with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia stories, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia clinical trials, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia 101 articles and events with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia experts.