Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

At a Glance

  • This type of leukemia usually gets worse very slowly, so early treatments may be successful, and approximately 75% of cases are survivable.
  • Risk factors for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) include being middle-aged or older, male, or white; family history of CLL or cancer of the lymph system; having relatives who are Russian Jews or Eastern European Jews.
  • Symptoms of CLL include painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin; feeling very tired; pain or fullness below the ribs; fever and infection; weight loss for no known reason.

About Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes. It is a blood and bone marrow disease that usually gets worse slowly. CLL is the second most common type of leukemia in adults. It often occurs during or after middle age; it rarely occurs in children. Estimated new cases and deaths from chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in the United States in 2010 are 14,990 and 4,390 respectively.

About Cancer Cells in CLL

Normally, the body makes blood stem cells that develop into mature blood cells over time. A blood stem cell may become a myeloid stem cell or a lymphoid stem cell. The myeloid stem cell develops into one of three types of mature blood cells; red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. The lymphoid stem cell develops into a lymphoblast cell and then into one of three types of lymphocytes; B lymphocytes, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells. In Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, too many blood stem cells develop into abnormal lymphocytes and do not become healthy white blood cells. The abnormal lymphocytes may also be called leukemic cells. The lymphocytes are not able to fight infection very well. Also, as the number of lymphocytes increases in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may result in infection, anemia, and easy bleeding.

Risk Factors

Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Risk factors for CLL include the following:
  • Being middle-aged or older, male, or white.
  • A family history of CLL or cancer of the lymph system.
  • Having relatives who are Russian Jews or Eastern European Jews.

Symptoms

Possible symptoms of Chronic Lymphcytic Leukemia include:
  • Painless swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin.
  • Feeling very tired.
  • Pain or fullness below the ribs.
  • Fever and infection.
  • Weight loss for no known reason.
If you have symptoms, increased risk factors or have recently been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, contact us to request an appointment with the Diablo Valley Oncology’s physicians.