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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

What is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cells. It is a blood disorder in which there is an increased number of white blood cells in lymphoid tissues.

 

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of the lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cells. It is a blood disorder in which there is an increased number of white blood cells in lymphoid tissues.
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The exact cause of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is unknown. This disorder may be hereditary for about 5% of people who are affected by CLL have family members with the condition. Relatives of an individual who has been diagnosed with CLL have a 5 to 7 times greater chance of developing CLL. In CLL, usually an abnormal chromosome is present in the patient, meaning there was either a deletion a the loss of part of a chromosome. The loss of part of chromosome 13 is common, as well as the deletion of chromosome 11 and 17. These abnormalities are important in the causation of the disorder, but the genes involved in the development of CLL have not yet been determined.
When first diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia most patients do not show symptoms. The disease is then incidentally discovered during a blood test. Those who do develop early symptoms may experience: enlarged lymphnodes, liver, or spleen; fatigue, night sweats, fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, frequent infections, and abnormal bruising. The patient loses the ability to fight off infections as the disorder advances causing viral infections to become an increasing concern. CLL can invade other organs as well including the eye socket, lungs, heart, and gastrointestinal tract. Jaundice, swelling and yellow pigmentation of the skin can also occur.
Patients who are first diagnosed with CLL do not show symptoms therefore they are commonly discovered by chance through a blood testing. In the blood test, the abnormally high white blood cell count indicated the possibility of CLL. The diagnosis is then confirmed through a bone marrow biopsy, a lymph node biopsy, or blood tests included a complete blood count, (measures the number of each typer of blood cell), and a flow cytometry, (closely examines the blood cells to determine if they are cancerous). Regular blood tests and physician exams are used to watch for signs of progression because earl-stage CLL can take years to progress. Being aware about the stages of CLL is also important to know what treatment is appropriate for each stage.
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The treatment for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia depends on the stage of condition of the patient. Those in an early stage do not typically show symptoms therefore they do not need any treatments. In the intermediate and more advanced stages the treatment options are considered based on the the symptoms the individual shows. Some treatment options include: * Chemotherapy: a drug treatment the kills cancer cells which is taken through a vein or taken as a pill.); * Targeted Drug Therapy: a treatment which uses drugs or other substances to identify and and attack specific cancer cells. Drugs that are used for treatment include: Rituxan, CAMPATH, and Arzerra. * Bone marrow stem cell transplant: strong chemotherapy drugs are used to kill the stem cells in the bone marrow which are creating the diseased lymphocytes. Then healthy adult stem cells for a donor are infused into the patients blood to travel to the bone marrow and start making new, healthy blood cells.
The prognosis for people with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia depends on a number of factors including: The Stage of Condition: a lower stage at the time of diagnosis results in a more favourable prognosis Bone Marrow Involvement: A diffuse pattern of lymphocytes in a bone marrow sample results in a less favourable prognosis Age: Older patients have a less favourable prognosis Sex: Women have a more favourable prognosis than men Proportion of lymphocytes: a higher number of abnormal lymphocytes does not give a favourable prognosis Chromosome changes: deletion of part of chromosome 13 will give a more favourable prognosis
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mmagsi Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is a difficult disorder to cope with. Patients are suggested to stay healthy and clean. They should do all they can to avoid infections, go to all of their appointments, and reduce the chance of second cancers (by not smoking and drinking alcohol) Emotional support should be given by family for going through treatment can be overwhelming. Physical activities, a good nutrition, and resting are important factors to improve the well-being of the patient. Open conversations about concerns and fears are also helpful. Counselling and medications may aid with emotional distress.
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