Chronic lymphocytic leukemia occurs in lymphocytes, white blood cells that help your body fight infections. With CLL, these cancerous lymphocytes don’t work as they should. CLL can progress either slowly or quickly depending on the form it takes, and it is the most common kind of leukemia diagnosed in adults.
There is no known cause or obvious reason why CLL develops. Having a biological parent or sibling with the disease has increased the likelihood of developing CLL in a few cases, but the risk is low.
Many people with CLL don't display any symptoms. Instead, your doctor may suspect the disease based on abnormal blood test results from a routine physical. Over time, the following symptoms may develop:
- Night sweats
- Shortness of breath
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Low-grade fevers
- Unexplained weight loss
- Feeling full
- Skin, lung or kidneys infections
These symptoms and risk factors could be present due to other illnesses not related to blood cancer, so see your doctor about your concerns.