Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Author: Louise Newson, general practitioner, Solihull. Reviewed by Donald Milligan, oncologist Birmingham. Updated by Emma Lackey, general practitioner Newcastle upon Tyne.
Key learning points
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is a malignancy of B-lymphocyte cells.
- It is the commonest type of leukaemia in the UK, predominantly affecting older people, often found incidentally on a blood test taken for another reason.
- Symptoms can include frequent infections, enlarged lymph nodes and tiredness.
- If any leukaemia is suspected in an adult, a full blood count (FBC) should be performed within 48 hours.
- Treatment decisions are based on factors including patient symptoms, comorbidities and preferences, disease staging and the presence of specific molecular markers.
- Treatment may begin with a watch and wait policy, followed by active treatment.
- While CLL is not usually curable, the slow progression of the disease means many people die of other unrelated conditions.