What Is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia?




How to define chronic lymphocytic leukemia?

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called “lymphocyte“, it belongs to one of the four major types of leukemia. CLL grows slowly and occurs mostly in older people. So you may not have symptoms for years.

Some people never need treatment, but if you do, it may slow the disease and ease symptoms and even live longer.


Any information about the chemotherapy for CLL?

Chemotherapy is one of the treatments for CLL patients, it uses anti-cancer drugs to kill or control cancer cells. Doctors give chemo in cycles, and these cycles usually last about 3 to 4 weeks. People in poor health condition are not recommended chemo.

The following are the major chemo drugs commonly used to treat CLL:

  • Purine analogs: FCR (Fludarabine combined with cyclophosohamide and rituximab); Pentostatin (Nipent®); Cladribine (2-CdA, Leustatin®)
  • Alkylating agents: Chlorambucil (Leukeran®); Bendamustine (Treanda®); Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan®)
  • Corticosteroids: Prednisone; Methylprednisolone; Dexamethasone

Depending on the dose of drugs and length of time patients spend on taking drugs, chemotherapy will have some side effects, which include:

  • Mouth sores
  • Hair loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Low blood counts
  • Nausea and vomitting


What are the clinical trials for CLL?

Taking part in new clinical trials is also one of the treatment options for CLL patients, because some new clinical trials may improve remission rates for CLL. Below are some new clinical therapies for CLL patients:

  • Kinase Inhibitor Therapy: Kinase inhibitor drugs can target specific enzymes in cancer cells, and have fewer side effects than that of the former chemotherapy agents.
  • Monoclonal Antibodies: Examples include ​veltuzumab (IMMU-106), lucatumumab and cirmtuzumab. Cirmtuzumab binds to a protein found called ROR1 on the surface of CLL cells.
  • Immunotoxin: Some immunotoxin drugs may be useful for relapsed CLL.
  • Immunomodulatory Drug.
  • CAR T-Cell Therapy: This new approach can induce long-term, disease-free remissions in CLL patients.


What is the survival rate for CLL patients?

It is studied that 83% CLL patients can live five years after diagnosis. However, for patients older than 75 years old, the five-year survival rate has dropped to less than 70%.


What affects prognosis of CLL?

The prognosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia may be affected by:

  • Stages of the disease
  • Complications arised
  • Disease recurrence
  • Genaral health condition
  • Chances for recovery and time taken for recovery
  • The duration of CLL


What are the symptoms of CLL?

The following are the signs or symptoms of CLL, please check them and judge whether you have CLL or not:

  • Swollen lymph nodes in neck, armpits, stomach, or groin
  • Pain or fullness in your stomach
  • Constant fatigue
  • Fever and infections
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite and weight without trying

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* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.