Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments!

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments we should be aware of. In addition,  chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called a “lymphocyte”.

Lymphocytes help your body fight infection. They are made in the soft center of your bones, called the marrow. If you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia , your body makes an abnormally high number of lymphocytes that aren’t working properly.

More adults get chronic lymphocytic leukemia than any other type of leukemia . It usually grows slowly, so you may not have symptoms for years. Some people never need treatment, but if they do, it can delay the illness and relieve symptoms. People who receive medical care live longer today because doctors are diagnosing chronic lymphocytic leukemia earlier.

It is natural to have concerns and questions about any serious condition. You don’t have to face things alone. Tell your friends and family about any concerns you have. Let them know how they can help. And talk to your doctor about joining a support group. It can help to talk to people who understand what you are going through.

Main Causes of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia:  In most cases, doctors do not know what causes chronic lymphocytic leukemia . You are more likely to get it if:

  • You have a parent, sibling, or child who has chronic lymphocytic leukemia .
  • You are middle aged or older.
  • You are a white man.
  • You have relatives who are Jews from Eastern Europe or Russia.
  • If you were exposed to Agent Orange, a herbicide widely used during the Vietnam War, your chances of getting chronic lymphocytic leukemia may also be higher.

Main Symptoms  of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia:  You may not have symptoms for a while. Over time, you may have:

  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, stomach, or groin. Lymph nodes are pea-sized glands in these and other areas of your body.
  • Shortness of breathe
  • Pain or fullness in your stomach, which could be because the disease has made your spleen bigger
  • Fatigue
  • night sweat
  • Fever and infections
  • Loss of appetite and weight

Treatments For Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia:  If you have early chronic lymphocytic leukemia , you probably don’t need treatment. Studies show that this doesn’t help, as it does with some other types of cancer. Even so, you should keep track of all your doctor’s visits. Your doctor will carefully check that your condition has not changed.

You can start treatment if your doctor notices a change, such as the number of lymphocytes in your blood increasing rapidly, a decline in the number of your red blood cells, or swelling in a lymph node increases.

Your Treatment May Include:

Chemotherapy: You can get this by pill, shot, or IV. Doctors often combine two or more drugs that work in different ways to kill cancer cells.

Immunotherapy: These drugs prompt your body’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells. You usually get this along with chemotherapy.

Radiation Therapy: This type of treatment uses high-energy rays, like X-rays, to destroy cancer cells. You probably won’t need this unless your doctor recommends shrinking the swelling in a lymph node, in your spleen, or in another organ that’s causing you pain.

Targeted Therapy: These drugs block the proteins that cancer cells use to survive and spread.

Surgery: It’s rare, but if chemotherapy or radiation doesn’t shrink the enlarged spleen, doctors recommend surgery to remove it.

Researchers are studying new drug combinations and ways to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia to help people stay disease-free for longer. One such treatment combines chemotherapy with a stem cell transplant.

Chemotherapy destroys cancer cells, but it also harms some healthy cells in the bone marrow. Stem cell transplantation provides healthy young cells to help rebuild your immune system. These are not the “embryonic” stem cells you may have heard of. They come from a donor’s bone marrow.

Close relatives like your brother or sister are the best chance for a good match. If that doesn’t work, you need to get 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 will likely need to be treated with high doses of chemotherapy for about a week or two. This can be a difficult process because you can get side effects like nausea and mouth sores.

When high-dose chemotherapy is complete, you will start the transplant. The new stem cells are given to you through an IV. You won’t feel any pain from it, and you’ll be awake while it’s happening.

After your transplant, it can take 2 to 6 weeks for the stem cells to multiply and start creating new blood cells. During this period, you may be in the hospital, or at the very least, you will have to make visits every day to be checked by your transplant team. It can take anywhere from 6 months to a year for the number of normal blood cells in your body to get back to what it should be.

You may want to ask your doctor if you can participate in a clinical trial. These trials test new drugs to see if they are safe and if they work. They are often a way for people to try new medications that aren’t available to everyone. Your doctor can tell you if one of these tests might be a good fit for you.

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