Leukemia--Chronic Lymphocytic Overview

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Treating Leukemia - Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL) TOPICS

Leukapheresis for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Sometimes very high numbers of leukemia cells in the blood cause problems with normal circulation. Chemotherapy (chemo) may not lower the number of cells until a few days after the first dose. In the meantime, a process called leukapheresis may be used before chemo. For this, the patient's blood is passed through a special machine that removes white blood cells (including leukemia cells) and returns the rest of the blood cells and plasma to the patient. This treatment lowers blood counts right away. The effect is only for a short time, but it may help until the chemo has a chance to work.

Leukapheresis works quickly to get the leukemia cells down. But without further treatment like chemo to kill the cancer cells, the cell count will go back up again. Leukapheresis may be given to help the patient until chemo has a chance to work.

Last Medical Review: 08/05/2013
Last Revised: 02/14/2014