The majority of cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are diagnosed without any symptoms of the condition being observed by the individual affected. In most cases, chronic lymphocytic leukemia is diagnosed after the physician is alerted to a problem within the body by an abnormal blood test result. Individuals with chronic lymphocytic leukemia have a higher amount of a certain type of white blood cell present in their blood. These blood cells have corrupted DNA which causes them to mature abnormally and decreases their ability to perform properly. These corrupted white blood cells multiply more quickly and at a higher rate than the normal, healthy white blood cells. Over time, the abnormal blood cells begin to crowd out the healthy cells in the blood stream.
The reduced amounts of healthy blood cells in the blood stream can cause a number of different signs that a condition has developed. When the higher number of abnormal cells begins to crowd out the healthy red blood cells in the body, the blood cannot carry oxygen to the numerous parts of the body as efficiently. This results in the individual experiencing anemia, shortness of breath, pale skin, and excessive fatigue. When the abnormal cells begin to affect the number of healthy white blood cells in the blood, the body begins to lose its ability to fight off infection. Individuals diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia become ill more often and for longer periods of time than individuals without the condition.
When the levels of platelets in the blood are affected, the body’s ability to heal is also affected. The platelets in the blood allow the blood to clot when an individual gets injured. If an individual’s blood platelet levels are low, the individual will bruise easily and bleed easy. Individuals with low platelet levels experience frequent nosebleeds, severe nosebleeds, red spotted skin, or bleeding gums. These symptoms are typically unseen until chronic lymphocytic leukemia reaches the later stages of the condition. When these symptoms have been seen, chronic lymphocytic leukemia has reached an aggressive stage that requires immediate treatment. The treatments used will depend on the health of the individual, the patient’s age, and the aggressiveness of the condition.
Some of the earlier symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that may be seen include fever, loss of appetite, weight loss, night sweats, and lethargy. These symptoms are common to many different conditions and infections, so most individuals experiencing these symptoms do not relate them to a potentially life threatening condition. Many individuals manage these symptoms for an extended period of time with over the counter medications until the duration of the illness causes them to seek professional medical treatment. As the condition progresses, it causes the lymph nodes in various areas of the body to swell and affects the spleen and liver as well. Annually, 100,000 new cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia are diagnosed, with an average survival rate of 5 to 25 years past diagnosis.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia – Causes and Risk Factors
- Treatments for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Litigation
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