Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is highly treatable. With an experienced care team, most people do well for many years on medicines they take at home.

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, our CML experts understand the complex factors that go into planning the right approach for each patient. This includes knowing which treatments match your needs and goals, when to change treatments and why. We see people who have just been diagnosed with CML and people who started treatment somewhere else and want new options.

Many of our CML patients take part in clinical trials — led by world-renowned physicians from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine — to get promising therapies that are not available everywhere.

Your First Appointment

From the first time you come to see us, your CML team will begin getting to know you and your family. What are your questions? What are your concerns? 

At your first appointment, your hematologist-oncologist will also explain your specific disease. They will tell you how it is treated and which tests you need to help plan your individual care. Before you leave, your team makes sure you understand the next steps.

Learn About CML

CML is is one type of cancer of the bone marrow and blood. In people with CML, something goes wrong with a type of blood stem cell called a myeloid cells. Instead of maturing into fully functioning lymphocytes — important immune-system cell — the lymphoblasts multiply out of control, and they don’t die off like normal blood cells do.

Facts & Resources

Treatment for CML

Usually, CML grows slowly. With ongoing treatment, it may not cause any symptoms or other health problems for years. But in some cases, it speeds up, and you may need different treatments quickly. To predict the outlook and plan the best approach for you, it is important to see CML specialists.

At Fred Hutch, experienced CML doctors will design and provide your care. Your Fred Hutch team will make a treatment plan specifically for — and with — you.


CML Care Team

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, we surround you with experts who focus completely on cancer. A handful of people make up the core of your care team. You will have an oncologist and a registered nurse who are experienced in caring for people with CML. At some visits, you might see an advanced practice provider. A patient care coordinator will schedule your visits.  

Care Team

Our Approach to Treatment

The safest, most effective and most widely accepted therapies for cancer become the “standard of care.” For many patients, these therapies will be a large part of their treatment. At Fred Hutch, we provide all standard therapies for CML. We know how to choose the right ones for you and how to deliver them to give you the best chance at a full recovery.

Our physicians and researchers are always asking how we can make CML treatments more effective and reduce side effects as much as possible. This is why we do clinical trials (also called clinical studies). Through these studies, we are able to offer you therapies that aren’t available everywhere. A therapy that is going through trials today may become the new standard of care tomorrow.

Along with treating your cancer, a group of world-class professionals is here to support you. This team includes nurses, registered dietitians, physical therapists, social workers and psychologists. We also include supportive care services for your physical, mental and emotional well-being. 

caregiver with family member

Role of the Caregiver

When someone close to you needs treatment for CML, you might step into the role of caregiver. Being a caregiver can mean many things, from lending a hand with daily living tasks to helping with medical decisions. It can also mean dealing with your own emotions and stress.

At Fred Hutch, caregivers are valuable members of a patient’s care team. We see every day that your presence and your support make a difference. We know that what your friend or family member is going through affects you, too.

Part of our mission is to help you take care of yourself. Caring for yourself is good for your own physical, mental and emotional health. It also helps you give your best to your loved one. Our social workers, Spiritual Health team and Patient and Family Resource Center staff are here to help support you.

Latest Treatments and Clinical Trials

Physicians and scientists from Fred Hutch and UW Medicine are testing new treatments for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and finding new ways to use current CML treatments. 

Through this work, we are looking for answers to three main questions: How can we do even better at stopping CML? How can we make treatments less toxic and easier on patients? How can we get more patients to the point that they can successfully stop therapy?

We have many CML clinical trials testing dozens of approaches. Some of the therapies we are studying include:

  • First-line, second-line and third-line therapies for CML
  • New medicines in phase 1 trials (studies that test potential treatments in people for the first time)
  • Options for people who have CML that is resistant to standard therapy or who cannot tolerate the side effects of standard therapy
  • New ways to measure and monitor CML 

To improve results for patients, our physicians and scientists are also studying topics like:

  • Why CML responds better to treatment in some people than other people
  • Why CML sometimes becomes resistant to treatment and gets worse
  • If some people in remission can safely stop treatment 
  • Who is a good candidate for stopping treatment and how to treat their CML if it comes back

When your care team designs your treatment plan, they will give you the choice to join clinical trials that match your situation. If you decide to join one, you will see the same doctors and nurses as you would for standard therapy.

Your care team will talk with you about if you might want to join a particular study and why. This can help you can make the decision that is best for you.

Related News

All news
Blood and Marrow Transplant Reunion returns to Fred Hutch Hundreds gather in Seattle to celebrate life, science and cancer survivorship July 19, 2022
Leukemia researcher Dr. Jerry Radich receives Kurt Enslein Endowed Chair New chair continues legacy of giving sparked by lifesaving care August 15, 2019
Fred Hutch global health research honored for impact, collaboration Washington Global Health Alliance awardees include Dr. Benjamin O. Anderson and a collaboration between Dr. Jerald Radich and The Max Foundation July 2, 2019