Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a slowly progressing leukemia that typically causes symptoms only in later stages of the cancer.
CLL is the most common form of leukemia in adults. It causes the bone marrow to produce excessive amounts of B lymphocyte cells, a type of white blood cell that helps fight infections.
Symptoms will slowly develop over time. A person may not experience any for
The following article discusses the various symptoms that an individual may experience as a result of CLL advancing.
In 50–75% of newly diagnosed CLL cases, a person will have no symptoms. It can take
Once symptoms start to appear, an individual or doctor may mistake them for symptoms of other conditions. Also, there is no clear time frame for how symptoms might appear or in what order.
However, the following are some of the common symptoms indicating that a person may have CLL or that the cancer has progressed enough to manifest:
Over time, CLL
An enlarged spleen can also cause the person to feel satiated after consuming a small amount of food, because the spleen pushes against the stomach.
Unexplained weight loss
Unexplained weight loss is another common symptom of several conditions that can also occur in people with CLL.
Individuals with CLL may experience a combination of loss of appetite and weight loss.
Shortness of breath
Symptoms of anemia include shortness of breath, fatigue, and weakness. Some other symptoms of anemia
- trouble walking up the stairs or engaging in physical activity
- rapid heart rate
- fast breathing
- pain in the chest
- paling of the skin, nail beds, and mouth
- swelling in the feet and hands
Night sweats are heavy sweating that a person experiences during sleep. Various conditions, side effects of medications, and menopause can cause night sweats to occur.
Night sweats are also a common symptom of CLL.
Dizziness is a
Low blood pressure
Some treatment options, such as chemotherapy, can lower a person’s blood pressure.
A drop in blood pressure, along with other physical changes,
As CLL progresses, it can start to spread to, or invade, other tissue in the body. Health experts call this metastasis.
Metastasizing CLL may spread to areas such as the:
CLL is a slow-progressing form of cancer. It can take
Doctors and researchers in the United States typically follow the Rai staging system, which classifies CLL into
In general, the higher the stage, the shorter a person’s life expectancy due to the increased speed of progression associated with later stages.
As a person approaches death, they may go through some physical changes and show new or worsening symptoms.
According to the
- increased weakness or tiredness
- infrequent urination or darker urine
- heart rate changes
- cold or blotchy hands and feet
- irregular breathing
- drops in blood pressure
- unresponsiveness to others
- lack of interest in food or drink
Learn about end-of-life planning here.
- extreme tiredness
- shortness of breath
- difficulty swallowing
- myoclonic jerks
Individuals receiving end-of-life care, as well as those around them, can find it difficult to navigate their challenging reality. For more information and useful tips, a person can review the
Treatment at this stage involves making a person as comfortable as possible. It may be helpful for an individual to receive palliative or hospice care.
Learn about palliative and hospice care here.
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In most cases, the cells transform into large B-cell lymphoma, which is a more aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Rarely, CLL can transform into Hodgkin lymphoma, another aggressive cancer type.
RT does not typically occur in the early stages of CLL, so it is not generally possible to diagnose it early. Health experts do not know the cause of RT.
Symptoms of RT from CLL may include:
- enlarged lymph nodes
- night sweats
- unexplained weight loss
There is currently no cure for CLL. However, individuals with the condition can extend their life span by taking steps to support their overall health.
A person should make sure to work closely with a doctor, even during the watchful waiting phase of treatment. This should include making all appointments and closely following treatment advice.
An individual should also consider taking steps to care for themselves to improve their quality of life. This can include:
- getting exercise
- eating a balanced diet
- connecting with local support groups
A person could ask a doctor for support group recommendations or use the
CLL is a common form of leukemia in adults. Individuals often receive a diagnosis after a routine blood test and may not experience any symptoms for several years following their diagnosis.
As symptoms appear, they can indicate that a person’s condition is worsening. Treatment may aid in alleviating symptoms and help extend a person’s life span.