Sunday, January 15, 2006

leukemia, chronic lymphocytic

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a disease of the tissues in the bone marrow, spleen, and lymph nodes that interferes with the white blood cells' ability to combat infection.
This type generally is seen in people over 50 years of age. The white blood cell count may be only modestly increased with chronic lymphocytic leukemia but the bone marrow will reveal lymphocytic infiltration. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia may be asymptomatic such that the initial diagnosis is made during a routine exam or for an evaluation of another disorder. If symptoms do occur, they are vague and include weight loss, loss of energy, weakness, anemia, joint pain, susceptibility to infections, lymphadenopathy (disease affecting lymph nodes), splenomegaly (enlargement of spleen), and purpuric disorders (hemorrhage into the skin).
If the leukemia is asymptomatic, no treatment is necessary.
If symptoms are present, with anemia or a high white blood count, steroids and antileukemic agents may be prescribed. Radiation therapy may be necessary and occasionally surgical removal of the spleen is required. Generally leukemia in older people progresses very slowly and may continue as long as 15 years on a benign course. A complicating infection may be the first sign of the disease. Therefore, avoiding contact with infectious diseases is recommended.
Phipps, W. J., et al. Medical Surgical Nursing. St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1983.
Reichel, W. Clinical Aspects of Aging. Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins Co., 1979.

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