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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is cancer in your blood and bone marrow. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell (WBC) that prevent and fight infections. Your bone marrow makes damaged lymphocytes and your body has trouble fighting infections. It may prevent your bone marrow from making other blood cells and cause bleeding or infections.
Call 911 for any of the following:
- Your arm or leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You feel lightheaded, short of breath, and have chest pain.
- You cough up blood.
Seek care immediately if:
- You have bleeding that does not stop.
- Your heartbeat is faster than normal for you.
- You have severe pain in your abdomen.
Contact your oncologist if:
- You have a fever.
- You think you have an infection, such as a cough, cold, or the flu.
- You have new bruises or bruises that are getting bigger.
- Your lymph nodes become painful or larger.
- You are losing weight without trying.
- You have night sweats.
- You feel depressed.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
You may need any of the following:
- Prescription pain medicine may be given. Ask how to take this medicine safely.
- Antibiotics or steroids may be given. Antibiotics help fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Steroids may be given to help you make healthy red blood cells.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him or her if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:
You will need to see your oncologist for ongoing treatment. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Prevent bleeding and bruising:
- Do not use sharp objects. Use an electric razor to shave. Use a nail file to keep your nails short and smooth.
- Care for your mouth. Use a soft toothbrush. Do not floss your teeth while your platelet count is low. Do not use toothpicks.
- Choose light activities. Avoid any activity that may cause chest pain or trouble breathing. Do not play contact sports, such as football or soccer. Do not travel to high altitudes.
- Blow your nose gently. Do not pick your nose. Your nose may bleed if you pick it.
- Do not take NSAIDs or aspirin. NSAIDs and aspirin thin your blood and increase your risk for bleeding.
- Wash your hands often. Wash your hands after you go to the bathroom or change a diaper. Wash your hands before you prepare food or eat.
- Avoid people who are sick. Stay away from people who have a cold or the flu. Also try to stay away from large groups of people to decrease your risk for a cold or the flu.
- Clean humidifiers. Change the water in your humidifier or other respiratory equipment daily.
Exercise as directed:
CLL or its treatment may make you feel tired. Exercise can help you have more energy.
Do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol:
Alcohol can thin your blood and make it easier to bleed. Smoking increases your risk for new or returning cancer. Smoking can also delay healing after treatment. Do not use e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco in place of cigarettes or to help you quit. They still contain nicotine. Ask your healthcare provider for information if you currently smoke or drink and need help quitting.
Eat healthy foods:
Healthy foods may help you feel better and have more energy. If you have trouble swallowing, you may be given foods that are soft or in liquid form. Ask about any extra nutrition you may need, such as nutrition shakes or vitamins. Tell your healthcare provider if you have problems eating, or if you are nauseated.
Drink liquids as directed:
You may need to drink extra liquids to prevent dehydration, especially if you are vomiting or have diarrhea from cancer treatments. Ask how much liquid you need each day and which liquids are best for you.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.