are cancerous malignant blood diseases, characterized by an abnormal proliferation of the cells found in bone marrow. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
is an uncontrolled proliferation of lymphoid tissue at the base of the production of white blood cells, which provide the body with its immune system. Unlike acute leukemia
, lymphoid cells generated are mature and have not been blocked at the stage of blasts (immature cells). They will gradually invade the blood. CLL primarily affects people over the age of 60, and more frequently men.
Symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include:
- an increase in the size of lymph: this is called lymphadenopathy or adenomegaly;
- an increase in the size of the spleen;
- occasionally, an increase in the size of the liver, or hepatomegaly;
- often in this form of leukemia, no other symptoms are present, and the patient remains in good condition.
The proliferation of these cells prevents, in advanced stages, a patient from having a normal amount of other blood components, which can lead to:
- anemia with pallor, fatigue, due to the decrease in red blood cells;
- thrombocytopenia with bleeding due to the decrease in platelets;
- Paradoxically, infections despite the presence of many white blood cells.
The diagnosis is often made by chance, during a blood test that reveals abnormalities in the blood count:
- significant leukocytosis, i.e. an increase in the number of white blood cells;
- a predominance of lymphocytes, hence the term lymphocytosis;
- a blood smear shows many mature lymphocytes without blasts, which differentiates it from that of acute leukemia;
- the confirmation of the diagnosis is made by a specialized technique performed on a blood sample, called immunophenotyping.
Treatment is a matter for specialists and is made on a case-by-case basis. In general, a single type of chemotherapy or the use of several molecules is used. The techniques of hematopoietic stem cells and bone marrow from a donor who is not ill, are both under study.