3 Things to Know About Chronic Leukemia

Chronic leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. It involves abnormal production of white blood cells, which slowly accumulate and affect the body’s ability to fight infections. The white blood cells develop partly and look like normal white blood cells, but are incapable of fighting infections like normal white blood cells. 

Chronic leukemia cells have a longer lifespan than white blood cells; thus they eventually outnumber white blood cells in the bone marrow. Most people can live with chronic leukemia for many years as it takes longer to show symptoms. This blog will discuss the three things you should know about chronic leukemia to understand the diagnosis and manage the disease effectively. 

 What are the Types of Chronic Leukemia?

Chronic leukemia is broadly categorized into two main types: chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL):

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

CLL affects lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell involved in the immune response. It is the most common form of leukemia usually diagnosed in older individuals. CLL progresses slowly, and in its early stages, it may not require immediate treatment. However, as the disease advances, it can increase susceptibility to infections.

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML)

CML originates in the bone marrow’s myeloid cells, which give rise to various blood cells. Unlike CLL, CML is often associated with a genetic abnormality known as the Philadelphia chromosome, which leads to the production of an abnormal protein called BCR-ABL. CML progresses more rapidly than CLL.

Symptoms of Chronic Leukemia

Both CLL and CML have the same symptoms, but their treatment differs. Many people don’t experience symptoms in the early stages of chronic leukemia. However, as it progresses, you might start experiencing symptoms such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent infections
  • Enlarged but painless lymph nodes caused by CLL, 
  • Weight loss
  • Pain in the upper left portion of the abdomen that might be caused by an enlarged spleen that CML causes

Treatment and Management of Chronic Leukemia

While there is no cure for chronic leukemia, treatment can make it mild and improve the quality of life. There are different types of treatment, depending on the stages of the illness, the patient’s overall health, and preference. For CML, there are six standard treatments that include surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, donor lymphocyte infusion, and high-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant. 

For CLL, treatment involves chemotherapy, immunotherapy, watchful waiting, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy with bone marrow or peripheral blood stem cell transplant. Patients can also choose to take part in a clinical trial. This is normally recommended to patients who have not yet started their treatment. 

Contact Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment and Infusion Center to Learn More about Chronic Leukemia Treatment

Understanding chronic leukemia can help patients and their families to make informed decisions. If you are experiencing chronic leukemia symptoms, you should visit a professional for the best diagnosis. Our caring staff at the Cancer and Blood Disorders Treatment and Infusion Center treat all types of cancer and are always available to support you through your treatment journey. 

In rare circumstances, patients may require specialized care at a teaching hospital. In such scenarios, our staff works closely with the teaching hospital to ensure our patients go through the process smoothly. Contact us to consult our specialists by filling out our online contact us form or call us at 301-638-1007. Our staff will get back to you as soon as possible.