Leukemia--Chronic Lymphocytic Overview

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Treating Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL) TOPICS

How is chronic lymphocytic leukemia treated?

This information represents the views of the doctors and nurses serving on the American Cancer Society's Cancer Information Database Editorial Board. These views are based on their interpretation of studies published in medical journals, as well as their own professional experience.
The treatment information in this document is not official policy of the Society and is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your cancer care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.
Your doctor may have reasons for suggesting a treatment plan different from these general treatment options. Don't hesitate to ask him or her questions about your treatment options.

General treatment information

After leukemia is found and staged, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. All treatments can have side effects. Because available treatments do not generally cure chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and it isn’t clear that treatment helps patients live longer, treatment is often delayed until you have bothersome symptoms from the disease. Some patients can delay treatment for years. The main treatments for chronic lymphocytic leukemia are:

Many patients also benefit from supportive care.

Other treatments, like leukapheresis and stem cell transplant are used less often.

Treatment is often given for a time (3 to 6 months) to improve symptoms caused by CLL. Then the patient is watched off treatment. If symptoms worsen again, more treatment is given.

Last Medical Review: 01/30/2015
Last Revised: 01/30/2015