The confusing dual names of CLL and SLL result from the presenting locations of our abnormal lymphocytes.
When the cancer in only found in significant numbers in the lymphatic system and not in the blood stream, it’s called SLL.
When the cancer presents in the blood stream and possibly elsewhere including lymph nodes, it’s called CLL.
While lymphocytes are the predominant type of white blood cells found in our lymph nodes, there are also billions found in the blood stream and in the bone marrow. Not surprisingly, the same locations are the sites we might first find a cancer of the lymphocytes.
Originally published in The CLL Tribune Q3 2015