Chemotherapy to Treat Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

The chemotherapeutic options for CML include the following:

Option 1: Chemotherapy with hydroxyurea (Hydrea)

  • How is it given: Orally
  • What is the duration: 6-week trial, followed by treatment of indefinite length
  • What are the side effects: Sore mouth, mouth ulceration, nausea, diarrhea, rashes, bone marrow changes

Option 2: Chemotherapy with busulfan (Myleran)

  • How is it given: Orally
  • What is the duration: usually 12-20 weeks
  • What are the side effects: Myelosuppression (impaired bone marrow function), sterility in men and women, early menopause, skin pigmentation, cataracts, respiratory failure ("busulfan lung")

In June of 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor dasatinib (Sprycel) to treat CML that does not respond to other therapy.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 14 Aug 2007

Last Modified: 24 Sep 2015