Management of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in Children and Young Adults

Curr Hematol Malig Rep. 2022 Oct;17(5):121-126. doi: 10.1007/s11899-022-00673-5. Epub 2022 Aug 3.


Purpose of review: Due to lack of pediatric-specific data, the management of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in pediatric, adolescents, and young adults is guided by adult CML evidence-based recommendations. Pediatric CML presents differently than adult CML and is often a more aggressive disease with different biological and host factors, yet there is sparse literature on how to address those differences.

Recent findings: Over the past two decades, tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have changed the way CML is treated. There are currently three FDA-approved TKIs (imatinib, dasatinib, and nilotinib) for pediatric patients. When choosing which TKI to begin treatment with, there are many factors that should be considered on a case-to-case basis to obtain optimal outcomes. The safety profiles for long-term TKI use in pediatrics require further study. Unlike adults, children are still actively growing during TKI use, and the effect on development can be detrimental. TKI therapy is not recommended during pregnancy with variable but significant risk of fetal abnormalities and miscarriage, warranting counseling for young female patients prior to beginning TKIs. Attempts for treatment-free remission (TFR) by planned TKI cessation in eligible adult patients in deep and sustained molecular remission are now done as a standard of practice. However, data is sparse in the pediatric population. There is currently an ongoing Children's Oncology Group (COG) study to determine the feasibility of TFR as a treatment goal. Further research and additional pediatric trials are needed to characterize the unique aspects of CML in children and adolescents and optimize outcomes.

Keywords: BCR-ABL1; CML; Children; Chronic myeloid leukemia; TKI; Tyrosine kinase inhibitors; Young adults.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Dasatinib / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive* / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive* / drug therapy
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors* / adverse effects
  • Young Adult


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Dasatinib