What is Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)?

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of blood cancer that begins in the bone marrow.

Individuals with CLL produce too many lymphocytes (white blood cells) in their bone marrow. These blood cells can become abnormal, and as their numbers grow, there is less room for healthy white and red blood cells, and platelets, to develop. The abnormal white blood cells are not able to effectively defend the body from infections, and can cause the person to experience infections/illness, anemia and bleeding.

CLL is the most common type of leukemia in adults. There are almost 16,000 people diagnosed with CLL each year. The average age of a patient with newly diagnosed CLL is 72 years.

As its name suggests, CLL can be a chronic disease and progress very slowly, or it can progress quickly and require therapy. Your treatment will depend on how your disease progresses.

Targeted Therapies and the Future of CLL Care

We have embarked on a new era in the management of chronic lymphocytic leukemia with the development and approval of potent and effective targeted therapies.

The treatment of patients with CLL is currently in the midst of a revolutionary transformation. We are now in an era where our primary focus is the development of "targeted," "chemotherapy-free," CLL therapies.

Today, we are focusing on therapies for CLL that are tailored to individuals based on the bio-markers or specific characteristics of their disease.

Symptoms of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

When the lymph system produces antibodies or fights an infection, lymph nodes may become enlarged. This is normal. However, one of the most common symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is swollen lymph nodes in the neck, chest or groin.

If you have enlarged lymph nodes, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have CLL.

Other signs of CLL include:

  • Fatigue
  • Lethargy
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual fullness after a meal
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Fever and/or infection
  • Bleeding
  • Bruising