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The World’s Leading Authority for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients

November 2021 CLL Bloodline

In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge. All articles and interviews are informational only, should never be considered medical advice, and should never be acted on without review with your health care team.

Over the course of a year of monthly meetings, The CLL Bloodline will teach the BASICS needed to understand CLL, bring news, help with the acronym and new vocabulary, and offer simple fun quizzes.

MONTHLY QUIZ:  CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and SLL (small lymphocytic lymphoma)

  1. Are entirely different unrelated cancers.
  2. Are related but different cancers.
  3. Are the identical cancers in different parts of the body; SLL in the nodes only, CLL in the blood and maybe the lymph nodes.
  4. SLL may become CLL.
  5. 3 and 4 are correct.

The correct answer is #5.  To diagnose CLL there must be > 5000 clonal cells per microliter (μl) of blood. In SLL, clonal cells with the identical immunophenotyping (genetic fingerprinting), as in CLL are found in at least one lymph node, but there are < 5000 of these cells per μl of blood. SLL becomes CLL if the count exceeds 5000.


  • As 2021, draws to a close we are asking for your help in supporting our efforts to continue to do everything we possibly can to save the lives of CLL patients. The resources provided when you donate make it possible for us to pivot when COVID-19 struck with new virtual support groups and online education and advocate for vaccines, boosters, and monoclonal antibodies. Donations of cash, cars, trucks, stocks, art and much more can be transformed into action to benefit our CLL community. The CLL Society is invested in your long life. Please invest in the long life of the CLL Society. You can donate safely through the website. Thank you!
  • The Giving Care to the Caregiver webinar is taking place on November 1st. Please share the on-demand link when it’s available for anyone who may have missed it. The presenter is amazing.
  • CLL Society is again proud to share that for the 5th time in 6 years we are presenting research at the very competitive ASH Annual Meeting.

THE BASICS:  Types of Treatment

Cellular Therapies are treatments that use cells rather than drugs to treat CLL. The first cellular therapy was a hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT), or a bone marrow transplant. In CLL, this is usually done using a matched donor’s stem cells. It may be curative, but infections and graft versus host (GVHD) disease, where the new immune system attacks more than the cancer, makes transplant very high-risk. CAR-T (chimeric antigen receptor – T cells) is experimental in CLL where our own T-lymphocytes are harvested, trained to attack our CLL, grown, and then re-infused. Results in CLL are amazing for this “living drug” for some, but the data are early. Neurotoxicity and cytokine release syndrome (CRS), where inflammatory molecules (cytokines) are released causing flu-like symptoms or worse, can occur and even be fatal; however, they can almost always be successfully managed. Other cellular therapies include CAR-NK (natural killer) cells and TILs (tumor infiltrating lymphocytes).


Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplant is a procedure in which bone marrow stem cells are taken from a genetically matched donor (a sibling or unrelated donor) and given to the patient through an IV. The cells migrate to and hopefully engrafts in the patient’s marrow, giving new stem cells to build all the blood components, and with it, a new immune system that recognizes and attacks the cancer as an invader. This is called Graft versus Leukemia (GVL).