Department of Medical Oncology
Leukemia: Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL)
S. Onder Alpdogan, MD *
Atrayee Basu Mallick, MD
Avnish Bhatia, MD
Christina Brus, MD
Andrew E. Chapman, DO, FACP
Neal Flomenberg, MD *
Michael J. Ramirez
Lewis J. Rose, MD, FACP
Mark Weiss, MD *
Allison Zibelli, MD, FACP
*Practice Focus: Hematologic Malignancies
For further information contact:
Thomas Jefferson University Hospital
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). Older age can affect the risk of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Other risk factors include being middle-aged, male, or white, having a family history of CLL or other cancer of the lymph system, and/or having relatives who are Russian Jews or Eastern European Jews. Possible signs of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include swollen lymph nodes and tiredness.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is an indolent (slow-growing) cancer in which too many immature lymphocytes (white blood cells) are found mostly in the blood and bone marrow. Sometimes, in later stages of the disease, cancer cells are found in the lymph nodes and the disease is called small lymphocytic lymphoma. Also called CLL.
Stage 0: In stage 0 chronic lymphocytic leukemia, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood, but there are no other symptoms of leukemia. Stage 0 chronic lymphocytic leukemia is indolent (slow-growing).
Stage I: In stage I chronic lymphocytic leukemia, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and the lymph nodes are larger than normal.
Stage II: In stage II chronic lymphocytic leukemia, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood, the liver or spleen is larger than normal, and the lymph nodes may be larger than normal.
Stage III: In stage III chronic lymphocytic leukemia, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and there are too few red blood cells. The lymph nodes, liver, or spleen may be larger than normal.
Stage IV: In stage IV chronic lymphocytic leukemia, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and too few platelets. The lymph nodes, liver, or spleen may be larger than normal and there may be too few red blood cells.
There are different types of treatment for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Five types of standard treatment are used including observation (”watchful waiting”), radiation therapy, chemotherapy, surgery to remove the spleen, and/or targeted therapy.
Reference: National Cancer Institute.