Treatments for low-risk CLL
The following are treatment options for low-risk (Rai stage 0 or Binet stage A) chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Your healthcare team will suggest treatments based on your needs and work with you to develop a treatment plan.
Watchful waiting is also called active surveillance. It is the main treatment because low-risk CLL is slow to develop and does not need to be treated right away.
Watchful waiting is treatment that involves carefully watching for signs that CLL is progressing. Treatment is started when symptoms develop or when there are signs that the disease is progressing quickly. Some people do not develop symptoms for many years and will not need any treatment.
Supportive therapy is an important part of treatment for CLL. It is used to treat the complications that usually happen with treatments for CLL and the disease itself.
Supportive therapies may include:
- antibiotics to treat infections
- transfusions of red blood cells, platelets, fresh frozen plasma and cryoprecipitate (a product that replaces clotting factors) as needed
- leukapheresis to remove large numbers of white blood cells from the blood
You may be asked if you want to join a clinical trial for CLL. Find out more about clinical trials.
A procedure that uses a special machine (pheresis machine) to separate and collect specific white blood cells from withdrawn blood. The remaining blood is then returned to the body.
Leukapheresis is used to lower a very high white blood cell count in people with cancer (leukemia) or to remove white blood cells for transfusion.
Research at the Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control led to a new standard in leukemia testing.
Great progress has been made
Some cancers, such as thyroid and testicular, have survival rates of over 90%. Other cancers, such as pancreatic, brain and esophageal, continue to have very low survival rates.