Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that affects the white blood cells, specifically a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte. People who have CLL will normally experience a rapid increase of these lymphocytes, making them unable to adequately fight off infections. This can be an incredibly serious condition if it goes untreated and can lead to serious complications. It’s important that those with CLL understand the underlying causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this condition.
Causes of CLL
The exact cause of CLL is still unknown, however, it’s believed to be triggered by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It is more common in adults over 50 and it’s believed to be linked to environmental pollutants like x-rays, cigarette smoking and even certain viruses such as the human T-cell leukaemia virus. As it’s a type of cancer, it’s important that those with CLL get tested for any underlying genetic causes.
Symptoms of CLL
The most common symptoms of CLL are swollen lymph nodes, fever, chills, night sweats, weight loss and fatigue. Other symptoms can include anemia (low red blood cell count), easy bruising and a decreased appetite. If the cancer is advanced it can also cause enlargement of the liver and spleen, feeling of fullness in the abdomen and difficulty breathing.
Treatment Options for CLL
The treatment of CLL will depend on the stage of the disease and the overall health of the patient. Most cases can be successfully treated with some combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or bone marrow transplant. For those with advanced CLL, clinicians may choose an experimental therapy to help reduce the symptoms.
Health & Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Living with CLL can be incredibly difficult and the long-term effects to one’s health can be serious. It’s important to remember that with the right treatment and care, people with CLL can live a normal life. Seeking regular medical care and monitoring any changes in health is essential for all CLL patients. It’s also important to maintain a healthy lifestyle, by eating a nutritious diet, exercising regularly and minimizing stress. Taking steps to improve your overall health will have a positive impact and help to manage symptoms of CLL.