CLL Testing & Imaging

There are multiple types of blood tests that you may encounter during your CLL journey. For the newly diagnosed, getting the appropriate testing and knowing what tests to have and not to have is critical.

The only way to definitively diagnose CLL is with a sophisticated test called flow cytometry that looks at the immune fingerprint of the cancerous clones. In CLL, this can almost always be done using the blood, but for SLL a lymph node biopsy may be necessary.

Bone marrow biopsies are rarely indicated as part of routine blood work-up for CLL/ SLL. Likewise, CT scans and PET scans are almost never needed at time of diagnosis.

Additionally, prior to beginning any treatment, the specific blood tests cited in CLL Society’s Test Before Treat™ guidelines should be followed.

Action Items for Testing

Confirm diagnosis.

Make certain that your diagnosis is confirmed with flow cytometry. If your healthcare team is recommending bone marrow biopsies and extensive imaging ask WHY and consider a 2nd opinion! Check out additional reading on this subject here.

Test Before Treat™

Never begin treatment for CLL without first having the appropriate tests to determine whether chemotherapy can possibly benefit you.  

Confirm diagnosis.

Make certain that your diagnosis is confirmed with flow cytometry. If your healthcare team is recommending bone marrow biopsies and extensive imaging ask WHY and consider a 2nd opinion! Check out additional reading on this subject here.

Test Before Treat™

Never begin treatment for CLL without first having the appropriate tests to determine whether chemotherapy can possibly benefit you.  

ADDITIONAL READING

When I was first diagnosed in April 2018, my WBC was at 55k, my local Hematologist performed the FISH test and found out I had 11Q with loss of ATM, they told me that only made a difference in the type of treatment I would need and I probably
Diagnosed Aug 2018 as a 54-year-old female, with SLL via node biopsy. CT showed extensive lymphadenopathy, very bulky disease, particularly in mesentery. Bloodwork all in normal range. Had BMB in spring 2019 for purposes of FISH. Had been experiencing increasing fatigue and discomfort in gut. Pathologist decided not to
I question if my doctor should have genetic tested me before treating me with Bendamustine in December 2013 and if this was the cause of my developing theTP53 mutation after my initial diagnosis of 13q in 2008. After the Bendamustine treatments, I started on Ibrutinib in January 2014. Gary
I was diagnosed accidentally in 2001 during investigation of a single swollen cervical node. My community oncologist at Maine Medical Center recommended chemo immediately. A comprehensive second opinion from Dana Farber led to 15 years of asymptomatic watch and wait. In 2015 a dramatic appearance of symptoms over 3
August 2019 I was diagnosed with CLL in June of 2014. Like most CLL patients, I was originally placed on watch and wait, but my cancer progressed aggressively. After only 17 months, my WBC had exploded higher (it peaked at 350,000 cells per cubic millimeter of blood, up from
At the time of my initial diagnosis — and not because I knew any better, because I knew nothing at all including my not-yet-announced diagnosis – my hematologist ran both a flow cytometry (to diagnose my disease) and a FISH analysis (to explore the genetics of my CLL). Though