Few neoplastic diseases have undergone a transformation in a relatively short period like chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has in the last few years. In 1960, CML was the first cancer in which a unique chromosomal abnormality was identified and a pathophysiologic correlation suggested. Landmark work followed, recognizing the underlying translocation between chromosomes 9 and 22 that gave rise to this abnormality and, shortly afterward, the specific genes involved and the pathophysiologic implications of this novel rearrangement. Fast forward a few years and this knowledge has given us the most remarkable example of a specific therapy that targets the dysregulated kinase activity represented by this molecular change. The broad use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors has resulted in an improvement in the overall survival to the point where the life expectancy of patients today is nearly equal to that of the general population. Still, there are challenges and unanswered questions that define the reasons why the progress still escapes many patients, and the details that separate patients from ultimate cure. In this article, we review our current understanding of CML in 2015, present recommendations for optimal management, and discuss the unanswered questions and what could be done to answer them in the near future.
Copyright © 2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.