Health A-Z

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People with CLL often have no signs or symptoms in the early stages of the disease. It may be discovered during a routine blood test or checkup, or when a blood test is done for another health problem.

Possible signs of CLL include

  • weakness and fatigue

  • swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach, or groin

  • shortness of breath during normal activity

  • pain or sense of fullness below the ribs

  • fever

  • unexplained weight loss

  • night sweats

  • bruising or bleeding easily.

These symptoms can be associated with other cancers and many non-cancerous conditions. Tell your doctor if you experience any of them.

Symptoms of advanced CLL occur when there is a shortage of healthy blood cells:

  • People with a low red blood cell count may feel weak, tired, or short of breath during regular activity.

  • People with too few platelets bruise and bleed easily.

  • People lacking in normal white blood cells are prone to infections and fevers because their immune systems are not working properly. (Infections can range in seriousness from frequent colds and cold sores to pneumonia.) However, some people with CLL may have high white blood cell counts because of the build-up of lymphocytes.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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