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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia


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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


  • Antibiotics help your body fight infection caused by bacteria.
  • Immune globulins may be given as a shot or an IV infusion to make your immune system stronger. You may need immune globulins to treat or prevent an infection. You may need many weeks of treatment. Each infusion can take from 2 to 5 hours.
  • Antinausea medicine may be given to calm your stomach and prevent vomiting.
  • Pain medicine may be given to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.
  • Steroids may be given to help you make healthy red blood cells.


  • Chemotherapy is used to treat cancer by killing tumor cells. Chemotherapy may also be used to shrink lymph nodes that have cancer in them.
  • Biologic therapy for cancer is medicine that helps your body fight growing cancer cells. It may also make cancer cells weaker and easier to kill. You may need this medicine more than once. You may feel like you have the flu during this therapy.
  • Radiation therapy shrinks tumors and kills cancer cells with x-rays or gamma rays. It may be given alone or with chemotherapy to treat cancer.
  • A blood transfusion may be needed. You will get whole or parts of blood through an IV during a transfusion.
  • A transplant is a procedure to put bone marrow or stem cells into your blood through an IV. The stem cells go to your bone marrow and begin to make new blood cells.


  • Blood tests will be done to check how many of your lymphocytes are damaged. Blood tests will also count your red blood cells and platelets. Your healthcare provider may use blood tests to see if your CLL has damaged any of your organs. You may also have blood tests to see if you have an infection.
  • A bone marrow biopsy is a procedure to take a small amount of bone marrow from your hip. This test helps healthcare providers find out if your bone marrow is making enough healthy blood cells.
  • An x-ray may be used to check your lung and heart function. You may need an x-ray to see if you have a lung infection, such as pneumonia. The x-ray may also show if your cancer has spread to your chest.
  • An ultrasound is a test that uses sound waves to show pictures of your organs and tissues on a monitor. Your healthcare provider may use this test to check the size of your spleen, liver, or lymph nodes.


There is no cure for CLL. If you develop anemia (not enough red blood cells), your organs or tissues may not get enough oxygen. You may also develop thrombocytopenia (not enough platelets) and you may bleed too much. Your organs may become damaged and stop working properly. You may get serious infections. These problems may become life-threatening.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.