Hockey World Blog

Brian Boyle Diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Luekemia

Today the New Jersey Devils announced that forward Brian Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid luekemia, a type of bone marrow cancer.

Quite frightening for a healthy professional athlete to be diagnosed with a form of cancer just before the beginning of the season. During a conference call earlier today, Devils team doctor Michael Farber said the leukemia was discovered early. General manager Ray Shero said it was found in blood work during team physicals at the start of camp.

According to the American Cancer Society:

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), also known as chronic myelogenous leukemia, is a type of cancer that starts in certain blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. In CML, a genetic change takes place in an early (immature) version of myeloid cells – the cells that make red blood cells, platelets, and most types of white blood cells (except lymphocytes). This change forms an abnormal gene called BCR-ABL, which turns the cell into a CML cell. The leukemia cells grow and divide, building up in the bone marrow and spilling over into the blood. In time, the cells can also settle in other parts of the body, including the spleen. CML is a fairly slow growing leukemia, but it can also change into a fast-growing acute leukemia that is hard to treat.

Boyle already has the mindset of someone who is looking forward to the start of the season while battling his diagnosis. But the team is not yet putting a timeline for when he will be able to return to game action.


Boyle, 32, signed with the Devils this summer, inking a two-year, $5.1 million deal after spending last season with Tampa Bay and Toronto. In 75 total games with the Lightning and Maple Leafs, he scored 13 goals along with 12 assists. He’s scord 169 points over the course of his 11-year, 624 game career. He’s also appeared in the playoffs for seven-straight seasons dating back to 2010-11 with New York Rangers.

He isn’t the first player to continue playing after a cancer diagnosis, with players such as Mario Lemieux, Saku Koivu, Phil Kessel, and Jason Blake being notables. Blake was also diagnosed with CML in 2007 and continued to play 445 games after being diagnosed.

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