Childhood Cancer

Childhood Leukemia

Who Gets CML?

Approximately 120 adolescents and children are diagnosed with CML in the United States every year. It is usually diagnosed in older children and adolescents and is found in equal numbers in males and females. This disease affects children of different races equally, unlike some of the other childhood leukemias (e.g., ALL is more common in Hispanic children).

My 7-year-old daughter, Madison, was diagnosed with CML in 2010. Her pediatrician deserves a big pat on the back because he saved her life. She had always been thin, but her abdomen started to protrude. I took her in and her pediatrician said it might be constipation, but he would feel better if she had some blood work done. Her white blood cell count was over 500,000. He called and said, “You need to go to the hospital right now; she has leukemia.” Looking back, I think she might have had low energy and maybe was pale, but our pediatrician did the right thing on the first visit and if I thanked him a hundred times, it would not be enough!

Doctors do not know why children develop this type of cancer, although adults who have been exposed to high levels of radiation (e.g., persons who have been treated with radiation for other illnesses) have an increased risk of developing CML years after the radiation exposure. However, few children or teens diagnosed with CML have been exposed to that amount of radiation.