Progressive Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL)

What Is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL)?

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that affects white blood cells (leukaemia). CLL begins in the bone marrow, which is the soft tissue inside bones that is responsible for making white blood cells. CLL causes the bone marrow to produce too many of a certain type of white blood cells, called lymphocytes. These excess cells can crowd out normal white blood cells and platelets, leading to serious health complications.

Symptoms of CLL

CLL developing slowly, which means symptoms may not become apparent until later stages of the disease. Common symptoms of CLL include:

  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Unusually heavy sweating, especially at night
  • Recurring infections
  • Pain or fullness in the stomach
  • Weight loss

Diagnosis of CLL

If a doctor suspects CLL, they may order tests to look for an abnormal number of lymphocytes in the blood or bone marrow. If these tests are positive, the doctor may order additional tests to determine the stage of the disease. These tests can often include a CT scan or an X-ray if the doctor wants to examine the patient’s lymph nodes or other organs. The doctor may also use a bone marrow biopsy to make a definitive diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Treatment options for CLL depend on the stage of the disease and the patient’s age and overall health. In some cases, doctors may recommend “watchful waiting,” in which no treatment is done until the disease begins to progress. In more advanced cases, treatments may include chemotherapy, targeted therapies, immunotherapy, and stem cell transplantation.

Living With CLL

Living with CLL can be a challenging experience. It is important to manage stress and fatigue, and maintain a healthy diet and exercise routine. It is also important to stay up-to-date on the latest CLL treatments and research, and to communicate openly with healthcare providers about concerns and symptoms. Support from family and friends can also be beneficial for patients who are living with CLL.