Overview

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia or CLL is a form of blood and bone marrow cancer. This type of leukemia grows relatively slow when compared to other types of leukemia. Lymphocytes which are white blood cells that help the body fight against infection are affected in CLL.
Older adults are predominantly affected by chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The disease can be controlled by certain treatments.

Symptoms

In most cases, patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia show no symptoms at an initial stage. Symptoms tend to develop as the cancer grows over time.

  • Swollen lymph node
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Abdominal pain in the upper left side, which may be triggered enlarged spleen
  • Sweats at night
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Infections occur frequently

Consult a doctor if these signs and symptoms are persistent.

Causes

The causes of chronic lymphocytic leukemia have not been discovered. Some error occurs that causes mutations in the DNA of the cells that produce blood. The mutation of cell causes uncontrolled duplication resulting in abnormal lymphocytes which are ineffective at fighting infection. The abnormal lymphocytes begins to multiply themselves when lymphocytes that are healthy would die.

Complications arise when the accumulation of the abnormal lymphocytes occur in the blood and some other organs. The surrounding of the abnormal lymphocytes around the healthy cells separates them from the bone marrow and hamper the production of the blood cells.

Risk factors

  • Age: Contributing risk factor, as chronic lymphocytic leukemia commonly develops in older adults.
  • Race: People of white descendent are more prone to have the disease than people of other races.
  • Record of blood and bone marrow cancers in the family: Patients having chronic lymphocytic leukemia or other types of blood and bone marrow cancers in the family are at risk of developing the disease.
  • Chemicals Exposure: Some specific herbicides and insecticides have been associated with the risk of obtaining chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
  • An illness that causes excess lymphocytes. Monoclonal B-cell lymphocytosis (MBL) increases the number of B-cell lymphocyte in the blood. A minimal number of people with this condition are at risk of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)