What is CLL?
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia is a cancer that can progress slowly and is caused by the bone marrow producing too many underdeveloped lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that help fight infection. Eventually the leukaemia cells spill into the blood. It mainly affects older people over the age of 60, and rarely affects anyone under the age of 40.
With CLL, the leukaemia cells build up slowly over time, and often people with CLL are asymptomatic in the first few years. The difference between Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia and Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia is simply the type of blood cell that has become cancerous in each case.
What are the symptoms of CLL?
Symptoms of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia can include:
- weight loss
- swollen lymph glands
- persistent infections
As CLL progresses slowly, treatment may not always be necessary at first. When the disease has progressed to treatment stage, the main two treatments are chemotherapy and a stem cell or bone marrow transplant.