Smart Patients Get Smart Care™

The World’s Leading Authority for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patients

April 2022 CLL Bloodline

This content was current as of the date it was released. In science and medicine, information is constantly changing and may become out-of-date as new data emerge.

Over the course of a year of monthly meetings, The CLL Society Bloodline will teach the BASICS needed to understand CLL.  It will also provide news, help with the acronyms and new vocabulary words, and offer simple fun quizzes. The cycle restarts and it is updated annually.

MONTHLY QUIZ: CLL is classified as:

  1. A lymphoma, as it arises from lymphocytes.
  2. A leukemia, as it is a cancer of the white blood cells.
  3. Neither, as it is a hybrid disease that is classified by itself.
  4. Both, as it arises from lymphocytes and is a blood cancer.

Correct answer is D or both. All cancers that arise from lymphocytes, a type of our white blood cells, are called lymphomas. As CLL is a cancer of the lymphocytes, specifically the B lymphocytes, it is included in the broad category of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphomas (NHL). That’s good because we may qualify for NHL clinical trials. It is also a leukemia as the cancerous lymphocytes appears in the blood in most patients. SLL (small lymphocytic lymphoma) is a less common form of the exact same disease where the cancer cells are not found in excess in the blood stream.

NEWS: President Biden promised not leaving behind the immunocompromised during the pandemic in his state of union address, echoing the language the CLL Society has used in our communications with his advisors, but congress has cut off funding for COVID-19 including vaccines and Evusheld that will result in decreased access.

Join us on April 25th for our next webinar Health and Wellness: Beyond the Medicine Cabinet, register here.

If you are interested in a paid survey opportunity to help us better understand about patient preferences, please find additional information and the screener survey here.

THE BASICS: Test Before Treat™

It is critical to do prognostic and predictive tests before starting each and every treatment. These tests predict the likelihood that our CLL/SLL will respond to different therapies. One critical test is FISH (fluorescent in situ hybridization) that looks for chromosome abnormalities in the cells’ nuclei. For example, finding deletion 17p (del17p) means all chemoimmunotherapy (CIT) won’t work. Another test examines the maturity of our cancer cells by looking at IgVH mutation. Some “mutated” patients with other good prognostics may have a very long response to one type of CIT: FCR (fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab). TP53 should also be assessed by next generation sequencing (NGS) as its mutation also predicts for poor response to CIT. Check out our Test Before Treatpages on the website.

WORD/ACRONYM OF THE MONTH: Immunosuppressed

All CLL patients are immunosuppressed to a lesser or greater extent depending on disease stage and treatment history. Immunosuppressed or deficient is a catchall term for different weakened immune defenses. 85% of CLL patients make lower than normal amounts of antibodies or immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulin replacement therapy (IGRT) that can be given either by IV or self-administered subcutaneously may help lower infection risk. T cell function or cellular immunity may also be impaired. This makes us higher risk for problems with many infections including COVID-19, and for second cancers. Infection precautions and age and gender appropriate cancer screenings are critical.