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Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

Overview

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukemia in the West, and about 30% of all reported leukemias is CLL. This disease occurs when the patient’s bone marrow produces too many abnormal white blood cells (WBC), or lymphocytes, which never become normal, infection fighting WBC. As the amount of these unhealthy lymphocytes increasing, they interfere with the normal production process of other important blood cells. More than 50% of CLL patients are older than 70, and individuals younger than 40 are rarely diagnosed with this disease. Researchers are not certain what are the exact reasons that start CLL, however, exposure to chemicals (e.g. Agent Orange druing the Vietnam War), family history of CLL, getting treated with immunosuppressive agent are possible to increase the risk of developing CLL.

Signs, symptoms and treatments

CLL always accompanies multiple complicated symptoms, including infection, abnormal bleeding, shortness of breath, chill and swollen lymph nodes. The conventional treatments of CLL focus on disease control that achieves a chronic indolent status. During the past ten years, aggressive research in the understanding of CLL has generated innovative therapeutic approaches based on molecular biology.

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