Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is caused by the corruption of the DNA of certain types of blood cells in the body. If the DNA of certain white blood cells, called lymphocytes, is damaged, the blood cells mature abnormally and are not able to fight infections properly. These abnormal white blood cells multiply quickly, crowding out the healthy white blood cells. The corrupted blood cells collect in the lymphatic tissue of the body causing it to swell. The swelling will be noticeable in the neck, groin, abdomen, and armpits. If a physician suspects that the individual may have developed chronic lymphocytic leukemia, they will check the lymph nodes located in these areas for swelling and determine the reason for the enlargement of the lymph nodes. There are several reasons that swelling in the lymph nodes may occur, including infection, and each reason must be ruled out before chronic lymphocytic leukemia is diagnosed.
Experts believe that the development of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is not a hereditary condition, but is caused by outside agents affecting the body. Working closely with certain chemicals and products has been associated with the development of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Individuals that worked closely in the manufacture or application of pesticides and herbicides have been found to have an increased risk of developing the condition. Individuals that worked in factories that used or produced large amounts of certain chemicals, such as benzene, have also been found to have a high risk of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
The majority of individuals diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia are over the age of 50 and the condition is considered rare in individuals under 40. The condition is much more common in men than in women, occurring nearly two-thirds as often in men. In many cases, the condition is discovered when a blood test is returned with abnormally high white blood cell count. The common symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are typical of many other conditions, infections, and illnesses, so in most cases, the symptoms are overlooked as something that can be cured by over the counter medications. The common symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include fever, weight loss, loss of appetite, night sweats, and fatigue. The symptoms can range in severity from mild to severe and affects each individual in a different way.
The complications of chronic lymphocytic leukemia can be severe and life threatening. Because the abnormal blood cells are multiplying more quickly than the healthy blood cells, it can cause anemia in the individual affected. Infections are most common in individuals with chronic lymphocytic leukemia because the abnormal white blood cells are unable to fight off infection. The condition progresses slowly and an individual may be able to live will chronic lymphocytic leukemia for years before any treatment is needed. The average survival rate for individuals diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia ranges from 5 years to 25 years, depending on the stage at which the condition is discovered and the general health of the individual when diagnosed. Close to 100,000 individuals are diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia annually and many of those individuals will survive for many more years with the condition.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Lawsuit
- Signs & Symptoms – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Best Treatments for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
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