Watchful Waiting for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

At NYU Langone, our doctors may recommend delaying treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) if you are not experiencing symptoms, and if diagnostic tests show that it is progressing slowly. This process is called watchful waiting, and it usually lasts until a person begins to have symptoms. During this time, our doctors closely monitor you by conducting regular blood tests and physical exams.

One sign that chronic lymphocytic leukemia may be progressing is the presence of anemia, a condition in which lowered levels of red blood cells cause fatigue. Too few platelets circulating in the blood is another sign, and this may cause problems with blood clotting. Also, a rapidly increasing white blood cell count, causing swollen lymph nodes and an enlarging spleen, often due to the growth of cancerous lymphocytes, indicates that the condition is becoming more aggressive.

Our doctors decide how often monitoring should occur based on what initial test results indicate about the progression of the disease. When signs and symptoms become apparent, our doctors start a treatment plan tailored specifically to your condition.

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