Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia

What is chronic lymphocytic leukaemia?

Chronic leukaemia develops when white blood cells grow out of control. The abnormal white cells live too long, and because they are immature and abnormal, they don’t carry out their infection-fighting function. Abnormal white blood cells crowd out the normal white cells, which increases the risk of infection.

There are two main types of chronic leukaemia, depending on what type of white blood cell is involved: chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

Read more about chronic lymphocytic leukaemia.


Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia symptoms

CLL is difficult to detect in the early stages because the symptoms tend to be mild at first and get worse slowly. Symptoms may include:

  • tiredness
  • weight loss
  • swollen lymph glands in the neck, underarms or groin
  • frequent and persistent infections
  • bruising or bleeding from a low platelet count.

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia statistics

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common type of leukaemia, with about 1000 people diagnosed each year.
  • Almost 80% of new cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 60.
  • It occurs more frequently in men than in women.
  • It is rare in children.

Because most patients with CLL and chronic myeloid leukaemia live for many years after treatment, the number of patients surviving with the disease is increasing.


The aim of this information is to help you understand about chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. We cannot advise you about the best treatment for you. You need to discuss this with your doctors. However, we hope this information will answer some of your questions and help you think about the questions you would like to ask your doctors or other health carers.

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