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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia Definition

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of leukemia which attacks a particular lymphocyte called the B cell, which can be found in the bone marrow, whose task is to fight infections. A person with CLL has a damaged B cell, thus it cannot fight infections and rather eats up other blood cells that are able to fight infection.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia Diagnosis

CLL is suspected when a person suffers from lymphocytosis, and this is followed by an abnormal population of B cells in the bone marrow and blood. Also, the CLL cells in one individual are clonal, or genetically identical. Some hematologic problems however, show similarities in clinical presentation to that of CLL. A few of these diseases include marginal zone lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, B cell prolymphocytic leukemia, and lymphoplasmatic lymphoma.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia Symptoms and Signs

A person can be diagnosed of having CLL without suffering from symptoms after taking a blood test. A CLL positive test result shows a high white blood cell count, but as the disease develops CLL makes other body organs bloat and swell, like the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia Treatment

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is incurable, and this disease takes a lot to develop. A lot of CLL patients have led normal lives for several years before learning that the disease has been with them for so long. What doctors focus on to how they can manage the disease and improve its symptoms rather than looking for the exact cure. CLL is treated with radiation therapy, chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation. It is rather difficult to determine when to begin the treatment because there has been no survival advantage to regulating the disease at a very early time. When the disease is already intractable, the doctor is left with no choice but to resort to a bone marrow transplant procedure on the patient. It is however rare for doctors to use a bone marrow transplant because of the risks it can cause the patient.

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