This leukemia may present as an infection. A simple examination is sufficient for diagnosis

This leukemia may present as an infection.  A simple examination is sufficient for diagnosis

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is one of the most frequently detected blood cancers in Poland. Despite this, many people are undiagnosed. Blood count helps in diagnosis.

  • How does chronic lymphocytic leukemia manifest itself?
  • Blood test and leukemia
  • How is lymphoblastic leukemia treated?

Currently, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) accounts for one quarter of all detected leukemias, although – according to forecasts – it will be diagnosed in an increasing number of patients. As many as 70 percent of CLL cases occur in people over 65 years of age and have multi-morbidities. Younger people of working age also suffer from chronic lymphocytic leukemia. The reasons include: genetic factors. Although statistically this type of blood cancer is more common in men, women also suffer from it (several years ago, the famous designer Ewa Minge was diagnosed with this leukemia).

How does chronic lymphocytic leukemia manifest itself?

In Poland, approximately 17,000 people suffer from CLL. In many patients, chronic lymphocytic leukemia does not cause specific symptoms that could be associated with cancer. Most often, the disease is detected accidentally, during a routine blood test. However, even earlier, the patient may experience some symptoms that are not related to cancer.

The symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include:

  • recurrent and frequent infections,

  • weight loss for no apparent reason,

  • enlarged lymph nodes (including cervical, inguinal, axillary),

  • weakness and fatigue,

  • night sweats and fever,

  • abdominal pain, feeling of fullness or enlargement of the abdomen,

  • pain in the lower abdomen,

  • bone ache.

Blood test and leukemia

Hematologists appeal to patients to test their blood regularly, at least once a year. It is best to set a specific test date that we will stick to each year. It may be, for example, around our birthday or the first day of spring – a characteristic date that we will not miss.

Performing a regular blood count is important, among others: because it allows you to determine the number of white blood cells (B lymphocytes). White blood cells are essential for building human immunity. In the case of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a large number of them should be alarming (above 5000/ul if this value persists for more than 3 months). In healthy people, B lymphocytes have a specific life cycle, but in sick people the situation is different – they do not die, but the body does not stop producing them. As a result, there are too many lymphocytes – they begin to accumulate in the blood, bone marrow, lymph nodes and spleen. Too many abnormal B lymphocytes reduce the number of normal cells that produce proteins, the so-called gamma globulins. As a result, immune disorders and recurrent infections occur, which are characteristic symptoms of CLL.

How is lymphoblastic leukemia treated?

Doctors emphasize that a newly diagnosed disease does not always require immediate treatment. The patient should be taken to a hematology clinic for observation. However, up to 30 percent of diagnosed patients will never require treatment, but only constant and regular monitoring by a hematologist. With the development of medicine, there are more and more options for sick people, including targeted treatment. New therapies significantly improve the prognosis of patients with CLL.

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