Chronic lymphocytic leukemia

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Watchful waiting for chronic lymphocytic leukemia

If you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) but don’t have any symptoms, you may be offered watchful waiting (also called active surveillance). This means that your healthcare team watches your cancer closely rather than giving treatment right away. They will use tests and exams to check if CLL is progressing or your condition is getting worse. Treatment is given when you develop symptoms or the cancer changes.

This approach helps avoid problems or side effects that can happen with treatments such as chemotherapy or biological therapy. There isn’t any evidence so far that watchful waiting reduces long-term survival or has other negative effects if or when you start treatment.

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Great progress has been made

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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.

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