Home Blood problemsLeukemia Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Causes, Symptoms, and Prognosis

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Causes, Symptoms, and Prognosis

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a cancer caused by the excess production of B lymphocytes , a type of white blood cell. This type of cancer occurs when the cells produced become abnormal lymphocytes instead of healthy white blood cells, seeping into the bone marrow and blood and reducing the presence of red, white and platelets. B lymphocytes are responsible for generating antibodies that allow fighting certain infections. Therefore, some of the symptoms that can alert of the disease are anemia, bleeding gums or infection . This type of cancer is characterized by being more present in elderly people than in young people and at FastlyHealwe explain the causes, symptoms and treatments to learn more about chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

The causes of chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Doctors have been able to distinguish between two types of chronic lymphocytic leukemia that differ in the speed with which they develop. Therefore, while the first type can develop very slowly and require treatment much later, the second type leads to a more rapid development of cancer and produces more serious short-term effects.

The causes of this type of leukemia are unknown. However, much has been learned from this disease in recent years about normal and abnormal lymphocytes. One of the abnormalities that has been found for chronic lymphocytic leukemia is an abnormality in the chromosomes . A human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. In most of the cases of this type of leukemia, an abnormality has been detected in one of the chromosomes that supposes a loss of a part of it. Although these changes in one of the chromosomes are known to be important in understanding the disease, the genes that may be involved or how they cause leukemia are unknown.

Another associated cause is the uncontrolled division of B lymphocytes . These act on the immune system when they detect a substance called antigen, which is not commonly found in the human body. The body works by generating B lymphocytes but these continue to reproduce when they have already fought the antigen.

Some DNA mutations that are inherited from parents could also be linked to an increased risk of some types of cancer. However, it is not common for it to affect the time of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In fact, these changes produced in the DNA usually take place during the life of the person and not by hereditary factors.

Symptoms associated with chronic lymphocytic leukemia

It is common that some people do not have any symptoms that can alert them to the disease. As a consequence, it is detected when a blood test or other routine medical test is performed when detecting a high number of lymphocytes.

Some of the symptoms related to chronic lymphocytic leukemia can be confused with other diseases :

  • Soft spot. Feeling tired.
  • Fever.
  • Night sweats.
  • Dilated lymph nodes, such as the tonsils.
  • Weightloss.
  • Feeling of being full eating small amounts of food.

When the leukemia progresses generating a very high presence of abnormal lymphocytes, a lack of red, white blood cells and platelets occurs causing other symptoms:

  • Anemia . Anemia is caused by a lack of red blood cells responsible for transporting oxygen to body tissues. When a person suffers from anemia, it is common for them to feel tired and have a headache.
  • As we mentioned at the beginning of the article, a decrease in normal white blood cells increases the risk of suffering infections . By having a large number of lymphocytes, a high number of white blood cells can be detected, but these do not protect against infection as normal white blood cells do. For this reason, the presence of infections such as a simple cold or cold sores is frequent, as well as other types of infections considered more serious.
  • When the number of platelets is reduced, bruising , nosebleeds, and bleeding gums can occur .

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia prognosis

The prognosis after detecting leukemia will depend mainly on the state of the cancer . The state allows us to know the degree of spread of the cancer and allow us to apply a treatment based on it. This state basically depends on the size of the tumor and the spread of the cancer.
In the case of acute lymphocytic leukemia, there are usually no tumors, but a high level of bad or cancerous lymphocytes is detected in the bone marrow and blood, and can spread to other organs such as the liver, lymph nodes and spleen.

The prognosis will depend mainly on a series of factors that affect when it comes to being able to overcome the disease:

  • When the bone marrow diffusion pattern is diffuse, that is, imprecise.
  • Advanced age of the patient.
  • If it is a man.
  • If the loss that occurs in the chromosome is in the 11 or 17.
  • The time it takes for a lymphocyte to reproduce, generating more cancerous lymphocytes.
  • High levels of some substances in the blood.

On the other hand, some of the factors that are favorable for the prognosis are:

  • The pattern of bone marrow involvement is not diffuse.
  • When the loss of the chromosome takes place in the 13.

Treatments that can be applied

In general, patients with early stage leukemia do not require treatment for a few years and can lead normal lives. Some of the treatments that can be carried out to combat chronic lymphocytic leukemia are:

  • Chemotherapy . It aims to kill cancer cells through drugs. They can be given orally or intravenously to get into the bloodstream. In the case of leukemia, it is one of the most effective treatments, since it allows it to reach all parts of the body. The problem is that this treatment has side effects such as: hair loss, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, etc.
  • Monoclonal antibodies . The immune system needs proteins to generate antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies are synthetic proteins that are introduced into the body in order to fight cancer cells. This option is often used in those patients who are considered to be unable to tolerate the side effects of chemotherapy.

This article is merely informative, at FastlyHeal .com we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia: Causes, Symptoms and Prognosis , we recommend that you enter our Blood, Heart and Circulation category .

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