Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

Decoding chronic lymphocytic leukemia

A paper published online on June 13 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine identifies new gene mutations in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) -- a disease often associated with lack of response to chemotherapy ...

Jun 13, 2011
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B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL), also known as chronic lymphoid leukemia (CLL), is the most common type of leukemia. Leukemias are cancers of the white blood cells (leukocytes). CLL affects B cell lymphocytes. B cells originate in the bone marrow, develop in the lymph nodes, and normally fight infection by producing antibodies. In CLL, the DNA of a B cell is damaged, so that it cannot produce antibodies.[citation needed] Additionally, B cells grow out of control and accumulate in the bone marrow and blood, where they crowd out healthy blood cells. CLL is a stage of small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), a type of B-cell lymphoma, which presents primarily in the lymph nodes. CLL and SLL are considered the same underlying disease, just with different appearances.

CLL is a disease of adults, but, in rare cases, it can occur in teenagers and occasionally in children (inherited). Most (>75%) people newly diagnosed with CLL are over the age of 50, and the majority are men.

Most people are diagnosed without symptoms as the result of a routine blood test that returns a high white blood cell count, but, as it advances, CLL results in swollen lymph nodes, spleen, and liver, and eventually anemia and infections. Early CLL is not treated, and late CLL is treated with chemotherapy and monoclonal antibodies.

DNA analysis has distinguished two major types of CLL, with different survival times. CLL that is positive for the marker ZAP-70 has an average survival of 5 years. CLL that is negative for ZAP-70 has an average survival of more than 25 years. Many patients, especially older ones, with slowly progressing disease can be reassured and may not need any treatment in their lifetimes.

This text uses material from Wikipedia licensed under CC BY-SA

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