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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood. Bone barrow is the soft and spongy tissue located inside of bones and the place where blood cells are produced. Chronic refers to the fact that the condition is long-term and it will progress slowly as to last longer in patients with this type of cancer. This disease is more common in older adults, while many other forms of leukemia are typical of younger children.

Symptoms

Many people who develop chronic lymphocytic leukemia won’t show any type of symptoms. Those who do experience signs or symptoms might have a fever, fatigue, enlarges but painless lymph nodes, upper abdominal pain, night sweats, frequent infections, and sudden weight loss. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should consult a doctor immediately to begin further testing.

Risk Factors

There are no known causes of chronic lymphocytic leukemia but several risk factors can raise the risk of you developing this condition. Risk factors include being over 60 years old, men get the disease more than women, Caucasians are more likely to get it as well, having a family history of bone marrow or blood cancers, frequent infections, exposure to chemicals like insecticides or herbicides, having a more aggressive type of cancer, or immune system problems.

Testing and Diagnosis

Testing for chronic lymphocytic leukemia usually begins with blood tests that will count the number of cells in a blood sample, what out what type of lymphocytes are involved, and analyze lymphocytes for genetic abnormalities. Additional testing for chronic lymphocytic leukemia include a bone marrow biopsy, aspiration and computerized tomography. Once chronic lymphocytic leukemia has been diagnosed, the doctor will then test to find out what stage it is. The stage is how severe the disease has gotten. Stages for chronic lymphocytic leukemia include intermediate or advanced; early stages of the disease don’t require treatment immediately but they will be monitored closely.

Treatment

The course of treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia depends largely on what stage you were diagnosed with. Early stages don’t usually require treatment right away though monitoring and further testing may be necessary. This is to avoid unnecessary radiation or chemotherapy which can be hard on your body. For intermediate and advanced chronic lymphocytic leukemia you will go through a combination of treatments including medications, removal of the affected tissues and cells, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. These treatments have been proven to be highly successful though this type of cancer is chronic, meaning you can have it for at least 3 months but probably longer. The main objective for treatment is to stop it from advancing.
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