Dr. Daniel Vorobiof, Chief Medical Director at Belong.Life explains:
The swapping of DNA between the chromosomes leads to the formation of a new oncogene
called BCR-ABL. This oncogene produces the BCR-ABL protein, which is
called a tyrosine kinase. And this protein causes CML cells to grow and
divide out of control, building up in the bone marrow and spilling over into
the blood. As time goes by, the cells could also spread to other parts of the
body, including the spleen. CML is a fairly slow growing leukemia, but it can
change into a fast-growing acute leukemia that’s harder to treat.
In a very small number of CML patients, the leukemia cells have
the BCR-ABL oncogene but not the Philadelphia chromosome.
Finally, it is known that mutations passed on by parents do not cause CML. DNA changes
related to CML occur during the person’s lifetime, rather than having been inherited
Once the patient has developed CML and a treatment is selected, monitoring is very
important to see how patients respond to the chosen treatment. Blood counts are
checked often. The blood is also checked with a PCR test to measure the amount
of the BCR-ABL gene. The bone marrow is checked, too, to see if the
Philadelphia chromosome is there. Testing for the BCR-ABL gene or the
Philadelphia chromosome is usually done at diagnosis and thereafter every 3-6
months according to the response achieved.
About the author:
Dr Daniel Vorobiof is the Medical Director of Belong.Life, developer of social network and navigator apps for patients, caregivers, and medical professionals, with apps currently available for cancer, multiple sclerosis and IBD. Dr Vorobiof has published more than 120 peer-reviewed articles in international medical journals.