- Complete blood count (CBC). A complete blood count with differential is helpful in counting the number of lymphocytes contains in a blood sample. If the sample consist of a high quantity of B cells, which is a type of lymphocyte, it may be an indications of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
- Flow cytometry or immunophenotyping. This test helps reveal if the increased number of lymphocytes, is caused by chronic lymphocytic leukemia, other blood disease or the body’s reaction to infection. Flow cytometry also help analyze the characteristics of leukemia cells which help determine the aggressiveness of the cells.
- Analysis of lymphocytes for genetic changes. Fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) is a type of test that can inspect if there are any changes in the chromosomes located inside the lymphocytes that are cancerous.
Leukemia cells could be tested to find characteristics that may have an impact on the prognosis
- Biopsy and aspiration of bone marrow
- Imaging tests include computerized tomography (CT) and positron emission tomography (PET) scan.
After the diagnosis have been made, the information will be used to determine the stage of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that patient has.
In most cases the very early stage of the disease does not require an immediate treatment. However, when the cancer progresses to more advanced stage, treatment may need to be started immediately.
The treatment options for chronic lymphocytic leukemia vary upon numerous factors, including the stage, if there is an existence of any signs and symptoms and the overall health of the patient.
If patient does not have symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia and does not have signs of progression, treatment may not be required right away. As studies revealed that early treatment does not have an effect in extending lives of people who have early stage of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Doctors will monitor your condition and start the treatment when the disease progresses. You will have to see the doctor and have the blood test every few months.
Treatments for intermediate and advanced stages
- Chemotherapy, a powerful drug that is designed to kill cancer cells that are rapidly growing. This treatment is given intravenously or through oral medication. Both single chemotherapy drug and a combination of several drugs could be used depending on the condition of the patient.
- Targeted drug therapy is a type of treatment that attacks particular abnormalities that are found in the cancer cells. Targeted therapy kills cancer cells by blocking these abnormalities to grow further.
- Immunotherapy is the involvement of a patient’s immune system to fight against cancer. The immune system in the body may not naturally fight against cancer because the cancer cells create proteins which make it easier for them to hide from the immune system cells. Immunotherapy interferes with this process.
- Bone marrow transplant (stem cell transplant) makes use of the strong chemotherapy drugs to destroy the stem cells in the bone marrow that are the causes of abnormal lymphocytes. Then healthy blood stem cells taken from an adult donor are injected into the blood. The healthy blood stem cells then travel to the bone marrow and start producing healthy blood cells.