Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer of a white blood cell group called a B lymphocytes. It starts in the bone marrow tissue where these B cells are formed. While doctors aren’t exactly sure what starts the chain reaction that leads to CLL, there’s usually some sort of genetic mutation in the bone marrow cells that causes them to grow and divide without restraint, producing abnormal B lymphocytes. Eventually, these lymphocytes spill into the bloodstream and begin to outnumber the healthy white blood cells.
Doctors first suspect CLL when a routine blood test shows something strange like an elevated lymphocyte count. Many people don’t have any obvious physical symptoms. That’s because CLL is a slow growing, chronic cancer. Physical symptoms often occur at much later stages of the disease. People who do start to show some of these symptoms may develop swollen lymph glands or an enlarged spleen. People with CLL may also feel systemic symptoms like fatigue, unintended weight loss, drenching night sweats or frequent infections. But these are rare at the time of diagnosis because systemic symptoms are usually associated with advanced stages of CLL.
Experts talk to Survivornet about the significant new advances in treating patients who have recently been diagnosed with later-stage CLL.
There have been major breakthroughs when it comes to treating CLL. This series outlines some of the newer treatments for later-stage disease.
Clinical Trials for CLL Treatments
Do I Need A Stem Cell Transplant For CLL?
New Treatment for Relapsed CLL Patients
New Treatment Options for CLL
CAR-T therapy has been approved for other types of blood cancers, and it is showing promise for CLL in clinical trials.
Clinical Trials Using CAR-T Cells Are Extremely Promising
What is CAR-T Therapy?