It can help to speak to people who understand what you're going through. Your doctor will give you a blood test if he thinks you may have CLL.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
The results show how many lymphocytes, platelets, and red and white cells are in your blood. If your white blood cell counts are high, you will get a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy :. By checking the samples under a microscope for abnormal cells, your doctor can tell if CLL is in your body and how fast it's moving.
They can also learn more about the genetic changes in the cells. This information may help you and your doctor plan your treatment. CLL grows very slowly. Studies show that it doesn't help. Even so, you should keep up with all your doctor visits.
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Your doctor will closely check to make sure your condition hasn't changed. Chemotherapy chemo. These are drugs that kill or control cancer cells. Doctors often combine two or more drugs that work in different ways.
You may get chemo by pill, shot, or IV. The drugs travel through your blood to reach and affect cells that are dividing too quickly all over your body. This includes certain healthy cells, as well as cancer cells. People usually get chemo in 3- to 4-week cycles that include a time of treatment and a time without treatment.
This rest time gives your healthy cells time to rebuild and heal. Side effects can include mouth sores, nausea, and low blood counts. But you can recover from that.
Almost all side effects go away over time after treatment ends. And most chemo side effects can be treated or even prevented. These drugs are man-made immune system proteins that help your body's immune system recognize and destroy cancer cells. Your doctor may call them monoclonal antibodies. They attach to certain proteins that cancer cells make. You get them through an IV or as a shot. Your doctor may give you this treatment on its own, but most people get it along with chemo.
Immunotherapy drugs cause different side effects than chemo does. Headache, fever, rash, and blood pressure changes are just a few examples. Some can be prevented, and all can be treated. Targeted therapy.
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These drugs block certain proteins in and on cancer cells that help them survive and spread. They target proteins found in your CLL cells and spare healthy cells. These drugs are taken as pills.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Side effects depend on which targeted therapy is used. They can include low blood counts, diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, and skin rashes. These can and should be treated. Most go away after treatment. Radiation therapy. This type of treatment uses high-energy rays, such as X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. It may be used to shrink swelling in a lymph node or your spleen, or to treat bone pain.
It's very rare, but if chemo or radiation doesn't shrink an enlarged spleen, surgery may be done to take it out. This can help improve blood cell counts. If you have a very high number of CLL cells in your blood when you get diagnosed, your doctor may use this treatment to lower them quickly. Your blood passes through a special machine that filters out the CLL cells. Clinical trials often offer other treatment options.
What is chronic lymphocytic leukaemia? - Understanding cancer - Macmillan Cancer Support
These are research studies that scientists use to find better ways to treat diseases. You always get at least the best available treatment in a clinical trial, but you may also get what the doctors think may be a new promising way to treat CLL. Stem cell transplants. Researchers are studying new combinations of drugs and new ways of treating CLL to help people stay disease-free longer. One such treatment combines chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant. The stem cell transplant supplies healthy young cells to help rebuild your immune system.
These aren't the "embryonic" stem cells that you may have heard about. They usually come from a donor's bone marrow. Close relatives, such as your brother or sister, are the best chance for a good match. If that doesn't work out, you need to get on a list of potential donors from strangers. Sometimes the best chance for the right stem cells for you will be from someone who has the same racial or ethnic background as you. Before the transplant, you'll likely need to get treated with high doses of chemo for about a week or two. This can be a tough process because you may get side effects like nausea and mouth sores.
When the high-dose chemo is done, you'll start the transplant. The lymphocytes are not able to fight infection very well. Also, as the number of lymphocytes increases in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may cause infection, anemia , and easy bleeding. This summary is about chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
See the following PDQ summaries for more information about leukemia:. Anything that increases your risk of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for CLL include the following:. Usually CLL does not cause any signs or symptoms and is found during a routine blood test. Signs and symptoms may be caused by CLL or by other conditions. Check with your doctor if you have any of the following:. The prognosis chance of recovery depends on:. Staging is the process used to find out how far the cancer has spread.
It is important to know the stage of the disease in order to plan the best treatment. The following tests may be used in the staging process:. In stage 0 chronic lymphocytic leukemia , there are too many lymphocytes in the blood , but there are no other signs or symptoms of leukemia. Stage 0 chronic lymphocytic leukemia is indolent slow-growing. In stage I chronic lymphocytic leukemia , there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and the lymph nodes are larger than normal. 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.
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. 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.
What is chronic lymphocytic leukaemia?
Recurrent chronic lymphocytic leukemia is cancer that has recurred come back , usually after a period of time during which the cancer could not be detected. Refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia is cancer that does not get better with treatment. Different types of treatment are available for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Some treatments are standard the currently used treatment , and some are being tested in clinical trials. A treatment clinical trial is a research study meant to help improve current treatments or obtain information on new treatments for patients with cancer. When clinical trials show that a new treatment is better than the standard treatment, the new treatment may become the standard treatment.
Patients may want to think about taking part in a clinical trial.
Some clinical trials are open only to patients who have not started treatment. This is also called observation. During this time, problems caused by the disease, such as infection , are treated. Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy:. The way the radiation therapy is given depends on the type of cancer being treated. External radiation therapy is used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing.
When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body systemic chemotherapy.
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