Leukemia, chronic lymphocytic
A generalized, progressive disease that’s common in elderly people, chronic lymphocytic leukemia is marked by an uncontrollable spread of abnormal, small lymphocytes in lymphoid tissue, blood, and bone marrow. The prognosis is poor if anemia, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, bulky lymphadeno-pathy, or severe lymphocytosis is present.
Nearly all patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia are men older than age 50. According to the American Cancer Society, chronic lymphocytic leukemia accounts for almost one-third of new leukemia cases annually.
Although the cause of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is unknown, researchers suspect hereditary factors (higher incidence has been recorded within families), still-undefined chromosome abnormalities, and certain immunologic defects (such as ataxia-telangiectasia or acquired agammaglobulinemia). The disease doesn’t seem to be associated with radiation exposure.
Signs and symptoms
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is the most benign and the most slowly progressive form of leukemia. Signs and symptoms derive from the infiltration of leukemic cells in bone marrow, lymphoid tissue, and organ systems.
In early stages, patients usually complain of fatigue, malaise, fever, and nodal enlargement. They’re particularly susceptible to infection, which may be fatal.