There is no cure for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), one of the most commonly diagnosed leukemias in the Western Hemisphere. The disease can progress very slowly, taking many years before it requires treatment, or it can be aggressive and need immediate intervention. Several factors affect chronic lymphocytic leukemia prognosis, including clinical markings, serum markers, and the patient's general health status.
CLL is a cancer in which the blood produces too many lymphocyte blood cells. The cause of CLL is unknown, though scientists have determined the tendency to develop CLL is not an inherited trait. Changes to DNA structure in CLL happen after the patient is born, not before birth. This leads researchers to believe CLL may cause DNA changes to occur.
Clinical markings are compiled and present a stage rating from stage 0 to stage V. The average chronic lymphocytic leukemia prognosis for stage 0 is 150 months, while the prognosis for stage V is 19 months. Within the range of all stages, general health and response to medical care also come into play. Gender and age of the patient are also factors considered in the clinical marking calculation for a chronic lymphocytic leukemia prognosis.
A lymphocyte test is typically done at six-month intervals following the initial diagnosis. The doubling of lymphocytes in any six-month period usually triggers a recommendation to begin treatment. Patient age factors into the prognosis because an older patient will be less able to tolerate aggressive treatments.
Serum markers also indicate overall survival rates, independent of other factors. The lower the serum rate, the better chance for long-term remission and survival. A higher serum rate shortens the predicted survival rate.
The chronic lymphocytic leukemia prognosis also depends on whether it is a new diagnosis or a relapse after the patient has been in remission. In addition, changes in certain DNA markers factor into the prognosis. Some CLL cases eventually become lymphoma, when the prognosis is adjusted for the new cancer type. General overall health is a significant factor in the prognosis of all cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Patients who are younger, the proper weight, and without other medical issues typically fare better during cancer treatments than patients in poor general health.