Glossary

Accelerated phase – the period when the disease begins to progress more quickly, treatments are less effective and symptoms worsen.1

Blast phase – the third and final period of CML. Immature leukaemia cells (blasts) appear and the disease becomes much worse, with more serious symptoms.If you are affected by this, you may find this article helpful.

Blood stem cell – forms in your bone marrow and matures into a blood cell.2

Bone marrow the material in the middle of your bones where circulating blood cells are made.3

Bosutinib – a drug used to treat CML, also known by its brand name Bosulif®. It is a biological medicine called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and can be used to treat CML patients in second, third, fourth and fifth-line therapy.4

Chemotherapy – a treatment that uses drugs to destroy cancer cells. A TKI like the one you may have been prescribed is the standard treatment for CML, but if it stops working so well, you may need to have chemotherapy.4

Chronic phase – the initial period of CML that may last months or years. The disease progresses very slowly during this phase and some people might not experience symptoms.1

Cytogenetic response – the levels of Philadelphia chromosome-positive cells doctors can see in your blood and bone marrow when they look at a bone marrow sample. A complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) means no Philadelphia chromosome-positive cells can be seen.5

Dasatinib – a drug used to treat CML, also known by its brand name Sprycel®. It is a medicine called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and can be used to treat CML patients in second, third, fourth and fifth-line therapy.

Granulocyte – a type of white blood cell. In CML, it’s the granulocytes that are cancerous.6

Imatinib – a drug used to treat CML, also known by its brand name Glivec®. It is a medicine called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and is a first-line therapy used to treat some CML patients.4

Leukaemia – any cancer of the white blood cells. The type of leukaemia you have depends on the type of white blood cells affected and whether it’s a fast-growing cancer (acute) or slow-growing (chronic).7

Minimal residual disease (MRD) – the leukaemic cancer cells left in the body during or after treatment.8

Molecular response – doctors look for this top level of response to treatment by measuring the cell signalling protein made by the BCR-ABL gene in leukaemia cells. Even after you have a cytogenetic response, there may still be a small number of leukaemia cells in your blood.9

Myeloblast – a type of immature blood cell that makes white blood cells called myeloid cells.10

Nilotinib – a drug used to treat CML, also known by its brand name Tasigna®. It is a medicine called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and is a first- and second-line therapy used to treat CML patients.4

Philadelphia chromosome – develops when a gene called the ABL gene on chromosome 9 breaks away and sticks to a gene called the BCR gene on chromosome 22. The new gene created when this happens is called the BCR-ABL gene and the changed chromosome 22 is called the Philadelphia chromosome. 95% people with CML have the Philadelphia chromosome. It makes the bone marrow cell produce a protein that triggers CML cells to grow.11,12

Ponatinib – a drug used to treat CML, also known by its brand name Iclusig®. It is a medicine called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and is a second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-line therapy used to treat CML patients.4

Spleen – an organ about the size of a fist, found in the left-hand side of your abdomen. It controls levels of white blood cells, and in CML it can become enlarged.13

Stem cell/bone marrow transplant – a procedure that replaces the abnormal 'leukaemic' cells with healthy cells collected from the blood or bone marrow of a related or unrelated healthy donor.14

Targeted therapies – a type of cancer treatment that works by interfering with the way cancer cells grow. The TKI you may be taking is an example of a targeted therapy. You might also hear doctors call it a biological therapy.15

Tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) – a medicine that blocks chemical messengers – or enzymes – called tyrosine kinases. Tyrosine kinases are messengers that send cells signals to grow, so blocking them can help stop cancer cells growing.16 In CML, TKIs work by reducing the activity of the BCR-ABL proteins that cause CML cells to grow and divide.17

  1. National Comprehensive Cancer Network. NCCN Guidelines for Patients Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Accessed May 2018.

  2. National Cancer Institute. NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Accessed May 2018.

  3. British Society for Immunology. Bone marrow. Accessed May 2018.

  4. Baccarani, M., Dreyling, M., & ESMO Guidelines Working Group. (2010). Chronic myeloid leukaemia: ESMO Clinical Practice Guidelines for diagnosis, treatment and follow-up. Annals of oncology, 21(suppl_5), v165-v167.
  5. Mahon, F. X. et al. (2002). Follow-up of complete cytogenetic remission in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia after cessation of interferon alfa. Journal of clinical oncology, 20(1), 214-220.
  6. Merriam Webster. Granulocyte. Accessed May 2018.

  7. Collins Dictionary. Leukaemia. Accessed May 2018.

  8. Medicine.net. Medical Definition of Minimal residual disease. Accessed May 2018.

  9. Cross, N. C. P., White, H. E., Müller, M. C., Saglio, G., & Hochhaus, A. (2012). Standardized definitions of molecular response in chronic myeloid leukemia. Leukemia, 26(10), 2172.
  10. NCI. Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Accessed May 2018.

  11. NCI. Dictionary of Cancer Terms. Philadelphia chromosome. Accessed May 2018.

  12. Science Direct. Philadelphia chromosome. Accessed May 2018.

  13. NHS Choices. Spleen problems and spleen removal. Accessed May 2018.

  14. CML Support. Stem Cell Transplantation. Accessed May 2018.

  15. Macmillan. What are targeted biological therapies. Accessed May 2018.

  16. Paul, M. K., & Mukhopadhyay, A. K. (2004). Tyrosine kinase–role and significance in cancer. International journal of medical sciences, 1(2), 101.
  17. Cancer Helpline. Targeted Therapies for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. Accessed May 2018.