About Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Leukemia is a cancer of the white blood cells that arises from the bone marrow and circulates in the blood. It is characterized by uncontrolled growth of white blood cells. Leukemia is a disease of the blood cells and does not usually form a solid tumor. Although leukemia starts in the bone marrow, it can spread to the blood, lymph nodes, spleen, liver, central nervous system (CNS) and other organs.

There are four major types of leukemias:

  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

The terms "myelogenous" and "lymphocytic" denote the different types of white blood cells involved. The terms "acute" or "chronic" refer to the rate of progression of the disease.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) represents approximately 33% of all leukemias and occurs most frequently in the elderly population. Approximately 66% of patients with CLL are 65 years of age older and the median age at the time of diagnosis is 72. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia usually does not develop in people under age 40 and is also extremely rare in children.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia affects a particular type of white blood cells called B lymphocytes. For this reason, a more accurate name for this condition is B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Lymphocytes are specialized white blood cells of the immune system that play a major role in the body's ability to fight-off infections.

Although the exact cause of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is currently not known, researchers have recently discovered that certain mutations (genetic alterations or errors) that occur in the DNA of normal bone marrow cells can cause these cells to transform into leukemic cells.

Cytogenetic studies, which are special tests that can detect specific genetic mutations of chromosomes, have shown that patients with CLL often have a loss of part of a chromosome. This type of genetic mutation is called a deletion. In patients with CLL, the deletion is most often seen on chromosome 11 or 13. Other chromosomal abnormalities can also be detected in patients with CLL such as an extra chromosome 12 (trisomy 12).

In the early stages of the disease, clinical symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia may not be obvious or may be overlooked by the patient. As the disease progresses, however, signs and symptoms become more evident. Patients may complain of generalized weakness or fatigue, may notice swollen lymph nodes, or develop recurring infections.

It is important to note, however, that approximately 50% of patients with CLL have no clinical symptoms of the disease at the time of presentation and that many cases of CLL are detected by a routine blood test in persons with no clinical symptoms. The major blood abnormality in people with CLL is an abnormal increase in the number of lymphocytes in the bloodstream, a condition known as lymphocytosis.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia must be distinguished from other conditions that can cause similar signs and symptoms, including:

  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Mantle cell leukemia
  • B-cell prolymphocytic leukemia
  • Leukemic phase of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
  • T-cell chronic lymphoproliferative disorders

Currently, with the possible exception of stem cell transplantation in younger patients, there is no know cure for chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Based on experience gained over the years in managing patients with CLL, doctors have developed the following general principles of treatment:

  • Because CLL is a chronic disease, it is often monitored for several years without the need for any treatment intervention.

  • In general, treatment is only initiated when there is clinical or laboratory evidence that the disease is progressing to a more advanced stage.

  • If treatment is indicated, patients should be offered the opportunity to participate in a clinical trial.

  • Patients with CLL who may benefit most from early, aggressive therapy include:

    • younger patients
    • patients in the more advanced stages of CLL
    • patients with adverse prognostic factors
  • Patients with CLL are particularly at high risk for developing infections that, in some cases, may be life-threatening. The prevention and treatment of infections, therefore, is a primary goal in the management of patients with CLL.

Approximately 5% to 10% of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia develop a high-grade (aggressive) form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma called a large B-cell lymphoma. This transformation of CLL to non-Hodgkin's lymphoma is known as Richter's syndrome or Richter's transformation. This disease transformation is often accompanied by symptoms such as fever, night sweats, weight loss, and enlargement of the lymph nodes, spleen, and liver. Richter's syndrome is usually treated with aggressive combination chemotherapy.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) for patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) can be difficult to predict with any degree of accuracy because of differences in the rate of progression of the disease between patients and individual variations in terms of response to treatment. In general, a majority of patients with CLL survive 5 to 10 years. Research has shown that, as a group, women with CLL tend to respond better to treatment and survive longer than men.

Factors that affect the prognosis for CLL patients include:

  • The stage of the disease
  • The extent of spread of lymphocytes within the bone marrow
  • The patient's response to treatment
  • Whether a patient develops serious complications such as recurrent infections or a secondary cancer
  • The patient's overall health

The Medifocus Guidebook on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is a unique, comprehensive patient education resource that contains vital information about Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia that you won't find anywhere else in a single resource. The Guidebook will answer many of your questions about this condition that your healthcare provider may not have the time to answer. To learn more about the Guidebook, please click here

About the Medifocus Guidebook on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, it's important to learn as much as you possibly can about this condition so that you can make informed decisions about your treatment.

The Medifocus Guidebook on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia is a unique and comprehensive patient education resource that contains vital information about Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia that you won't find anywhere else in a single source. Available both as a Soft-Cover Book and as an E-Book (PDF), the Guidebook will answer many of your questions about Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, including:

  • The causes and risk factors for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
  • The clinical signs and symptoms.
  • The diagnostic tests and procedures that are necessary to confirm the diagnosis of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
  • The standard treatments and the treatment options currently available for the management of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
  • The impact of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia on quality of life.
  • The latest clinical and research advances for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia as reported in credible, trustworthy medical journals.
  • A directory of doctors and medical centers that have special interest and clinical expertise in the management of patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.
  • A listing of organizations where patients can seek additional information, services, and support.

Whether you've been newly diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or have suffered with it for several years, the Medifocus Guidebook on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia can serve as a valuable resource to help you better understand and cope with this condition. When you purchase your copy of either the Soft-Cover Book or the E-Book (PDF), you will also receive Free Updates for one-year.

Thousands of satisfied customers have purchased the Medifocus Guidebook on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia for themselves, a loved one, and even their healthcare provider. Their Testimonials are a tribute to the quality of the work product that our editorial staff has created. With a customer-satisfaction rating of over 98%, we're so confident that you will be satisfied with your purchase that we offer an iron-clad Risk-Free Satisfaction Guarantee. To learn more about the content, please download a Free Preview of the Guidebook that will enable you to review an abbreviated version of the individual sections.


I was recently diagnosed with CLL and searched all over the Web for information. I found the MediFocus Guidebook on Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia to be a very useful resource. The information about chemotherapy was most important to me as well as recent studies concerning general treatments for this condition. The most valuable information was contained in the extensive references listed which were easy to access with a simple 'mouse' click. You are welcome to use my name as a reference.
Coedpoeth, United Kingdom
Thanks for a chance to say a few words about your MediFocus Guidebook. When unexplained illness hit me, I didn't know what it was or what to ask my doctor. Then I purchased your Guidebook and that made all the difference. When I arrived with a list of pointed questions, the doctor spent more time with me than before and I felt comfortable understanding the diagnosis and treatment. Thanks for understanding what I was up against... it has helped a lot.
Prescott, Arizona
It is great to have serious health issues explained in an easy to understand format. When you are ill, it is overwhelming when you trying to search for information about your illness. Medifocus helps you find the important information regarding your issues and the latest research and discussions by the medical profession. I am enjoying my Guidebook.
Ft. Bragg, California
Thanks for the wonderful MediFocus Guidebook. The more familiar I've become with it, the less it scares me to know that I have this condition. It is comforting to know that there is so much research ongoing even though there is not a cure just yet. Many thanks for your Guidebook?one person could never have compiled all of these sources together alone.
Jacksonville, Florida
I found the Guidebook very comprehensive and written in a professional and clear style. I would recommend your books to anyone who has a problem and needs to go to a doctor. Trusting your health issues in the hands of a doctor who may or may not be good or professional is no longer acceptable. I found that my father-in-law's doctor does not actually know about many of the studies described in the book even though he is considered to be one of the "specialists" in this domain.
Sydney, Australia
The Medifocus Guidebook is helping me to understand my condition much more in-depth than before. My doctor described the disease in medically technical terms only. I have used my Guidebook to access a variety of information sources and now have not only a better understanding of my ailment, but also several treatments have been revealed which I did not previously know about.
Nashville, Tennessee