Facts & Resources

Confirming Your Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Diagnosis

Diagnosing chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) involves blood and bone marrow tests, like a bone marrow biopsy. A biopsy shows if you have cancer. It will also give details about the type and subtype you have. 

At Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, our hematopathologists will check and confirm your diagnosis. One thing they will look for is what phase your disease is in: the chronic phase, accelerated phase or blast phase. In each phase, CML behaves in a different way, and the treatment approach is different. At Fred Hutch, our hematopathologists are very experienced in diagnosing CML. They will give your doctor the details needed to tailor your care to you. 

Tests for CML

To diagnose CML, figure out the phase of your disease, predict the outlook, plan your treatment and check how well treatment works, we will need to do blood and bone marrow tests and imaging tests.

Blood and marrow tests show your levels of healthy blood cells and leukemia cells. They also give us details about your leukemia cells that affect your treatment plan. Imaging tests provide information about how CML is affecting your organs.

Blood Tests

Blood tests for CML include:

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Blood chemistry
  • Peripheral blood smear 
  • Cytogenetic tests
  • Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR)

Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy

After numbing the area so there is no pain, a physicin uses a hollow needle to take a sample of marrow (bone marrow aspiration) and a small piece of bone (bone marrow biopsy). A hematopathologist checks these samples for signs of cancer. Many of the same tests done on your blood can also be done on your marrow.

Imaging Tests

Imaging tests that we use to check if CML is affecting your organs include:

  • CT (computed tomography) scan
  • MRI (magnetic resonance imaging)
  • Ultrasound

Types of Treatment for CML

With today’s medicines, most people with CML have a normal lifespan and a good quality of life. The key is to get care from CML experts — like the doctors at Fred Hutch — who know the complex factors that go into choosing the right treatments for you at the right time.

Fred Hutch has researched and treated CML for decades.


There are many resources online for learning about your disease. We’ve compiled a list of trusted sources to help you get started.

If you or your caregiver are seeking additional information or resources, Fred Hutch Patient and Family Resource Center is available to help connect you with what you need.

Cancer Research Organizations

Our list of online resources provides accurate health information from reliable and reputable sources, like the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN).

American Cancer Society

American Cancer Society (ACS): Overview of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)

If you have CML or are a caregiver for someone who does, knowing what to expect can be helpful. Here you can find out all about CML in adults, including risk factors, symptoms and how they are found and treated.

American Society of Clinical Oncology

American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO): Guide to Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

This is Cancer.Net's Guide to CML. Here you can learn more about CML, treatment, the latest research and clinical trials.

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) Guidelines for Patients: Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

This step-by-step guide to the latest advances in cancer care features questions to ask your physician, patient-friendly illustrations and glossaries of terms and acronyms.