Blood Cancer Cases on Rise in Young Indian People: Experts

Blood Cancer

Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) — a rare, yet treatable type of blood cancer — is significantly rising among young adults, aged 30 to 40 years, in India, warned doctors on Tuesday. CML affects the bone marrow and is characterised by the uncontrolled growth of white blood cells (WBC), specifically granulocytes, in the bone marrow.

Globally, CML affects a significant number of people, with estimates ranging between 1.2 to 1.5 million individuals. Despite its prevalence, CML remains relatively rare compared to other forms of leukaemia, comprising nearly 15 per cent of all leukaemia cases. A recent study published in the journal Lancet showed that the condition is found in much younger persons, with the majority of patients being diagnosed between the age of 30 to 40 years, in India. In comparison, the average age of diagnosis in Western countries is 64 years.

“In my practice, I see about 5-10 new patients being diagnosed with CML every month, with an additional 10-15 patients coming in for follow-up,” K.S. Nataraj, Senior Haematologist and Haemato-Oncologist, HCG Comprehensive Cancer Care Hospital, Bengaluru, told IANS. “This high number is largely because more people are nowadays diagnosed on time, as they regularly go for general check-ups and doctors advise testing, for example, when suspiciously high WBC counts are detected,” he added.

The common symptoms of CML include night sweats, weight loss, fever, bone pain, and an enlarged spleen.

CML is largely curable if diagnosed and treated in the early stages. “CML is indeed a treatable form of blood cancer. However, achieving treatment success requires a delicate balance. Consistent medication intake and regular checkups are important in this journey. With vigilant monitoring and personalised treatment strategies CML can be managed,” Tulika Seth, Professor Haematology, AIIMS, New Delhi, told IANS.

“Living with CML is a journey that comes with unique challenges at each stage. Prioritising frequent monitoring, compliance with treatment aiming for optimal treatment goals, and embracing advancements in therapy is key,” she added.

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