Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma


Chronic lymphocytic leukemiaDisease generally characterized by the overproduction of abnormal or immature white blood cells that circulate or are present in the blood. (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) are cancers that affect lymphocytesA type of white blood cell. Lymphocytes, carries along by the lymph fluid, are part of the immune system and fight infection.. CLL and SLL are essentially the same disease, with the only difference being the location where the cancerAbnormal cell growth that cannot be controlled by the body's natural defenses. Cancerous cells can grow and eventually form tumors. primarily occurs. When most of the cancer cells are located in the bloodstream and the bone marrowSpongy material found inside the bones containing stem cells that develop into three types of cells: red blood cells that deliver oxygen to the body and take away carbon dioxide; white blood cells that protect the body from infection; and platelets, the disease is referred to as CLL, although the lymph nodesSmall bean-shaped glands located in the small vessels of the lymphatic system. There are thousands of lymph nodes located throughout the body, with clusters of them in the neck, under the arms, the chest, abdomen and groin. Lymph nodes filter lymph fluid, trapping and destroying potentially harmful bacteria and viruses. and spleen are often involved. When the cancer cells are located mostly in the lymphThe watery fluid in the lymph system that contains white blood cells (lymphocytes). nodes, the disease is called SLL.

Many patients with CLL/SLL do not have any obvious symptoms of the disease. Their doctors might detect the disease during routine blood tests and/or a physical examination. For others, the disease is detected when symptoms occur and the patient goes to the doctor because he or she is worried, uncomfortable, or does not feel well. CLL/SLL may cause different symptoms depending on the location of the tumorAn abnormal mass or swelling of tissue, that can occur  anywhere in the body. in the body. The symptoms of CLL/SLL include a tender, swollen abdomen and feeling full even after eating only a small amount. Other symptoms can include fatigueA decreased capacity for activity that is often accompanied by feelings of weariness, sleepiness or irritability., shortness of breath, anemiaA shortage of red blood cells, causing weakness and fatigue., bruising easily, night sweats, weight loss, and frequent infections. However, many patients with CLL/SLL will live for years without symptoms.

To learn more about chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL), download the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia/ Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma Fact Sheet.