How is CLL treated ?

The goals for what your treatment will accomplish may include:

  • Slowing down the growth of the CLL cells
  • Maintaining your lifestyle
  • Keeping you feeling well enough to carry on your day-to-day responsibilities
  • Bringing your white blood cell, red blood cell and platelet counts to normal levels

Treatments are often intended to control the disease and manage its symptoms, not cure it.

If you have previously been treated for CLL, it is important to know that any treatment outcomes (e.g. effectiveness, side effects) will impact your future treatment considerations.

Your journey doesn’t end when treatment stops. For more information on life after treatment, visit LifeBeyondLymphoma.ca.

Treatments Available

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Watch and Wait

CLL is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow that has a slower progression than other types of leukemia. Many patients have no symptoms or other risk factors that require immediate treatment. These patients can be closely monitored using a “watch and wait” approach. During this time, patients do not take any medical treatment, but undergo regular physical exams and lab tests to monitor for any changes in their health.

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Chemotherapy

Staying chemotherapy-free is not always the best option. Chemotherapy works by putting medicine in your system that is potent enough to damage or kill the cancerous cells. It can also damage healthy cells and cause side effects, but it’s important to know that everybody reacts differently to the treatment and experiences different side effects.

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Monoclonal Antibody Therapy

Monoclonal antibodies are man-made versions of immune system proteins (antibodies) that are designed to attach to a specific target (in this case, proteins on the surface of cancer cells). These drugs can help your immune system react and destroy the cancer cells. Some monoclonal antibodies also fight cancer in other ways.

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Targeted Therapy

Scientists have discovered new targeted therapies that focus on the changes inside cells that cause them to become cancerous. These treatments attack one or more specific targets on or in cancer cells.

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Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy (also called radiotherapy) is not commonly used to treat CLL, but it can be used to relieve pain caused by a swollen lymph node, spleen or other enlarged masses that result from CLL.

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Splenectomy

Your spleen’s main function is to filter old worn-out cells from your blood. While it is not commonly used in CLL, splenectomy is a surgery done to remove the spleen, should it become enlarged.

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Supportive Therapy

There may be side effects and complications as a result of CLL or its treatment. There are supportive therapies available to manage these.

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Clinical Trial

The current standard treatments available are a result of previous clinical trials.

Clinical trials explore the safety and efficacy of new therapies, new combinations of treatments, or approved medicines being used in new dosing or schedules.

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