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Chronic Eosinophilic Leukaemia / Hypereosinophilic Syndrome

Chronic eosinophilic leukaemia is a rare myeloproliferative neoplasm (blood cancer) in which too many white blood cells, called eosinophils, are made in the bone marrow.

These cells spill out of the bone marrow and accumulate in the blood and other tissues around the body. This disorder is diagnosed by a full blood count showing persistently elevated numbers of eosinophils (a specialised white blood cell). Many patients carry the FIP1L1-PDGFR alpha mutation.

Some people with chronic eosinophilic leukaemia don't have any symptoms and the disease is picked up accidentally during a routine blood test. Others may go to their doctor because they have one or more of a range of symptoms including fever, fatigue, cough, muscle pains, pruritis (generalised itching) and diarrhoea.

Chronic eosinophilic leukaemia is a rare disease and its natural course can vary considerably between individuals. The disease may remain stable for many years, even decades, or it may quickly progress and transform to acute leukaemia. For this reason, the most appropriate treatment for each patient is decided on an individual basis.

Treatment may include corticosteroids, chemotherapy drugs such as hydroxyurea, and interferon therapy. Some patients may respond to a newer drug called imatinib mesylate (GLIVEC®), most often used in the treatment of another type of MPN called chronic myeloid leukaemia. A stem cell transplant may be considered in selected cases.