There are four stages of CLL that a patient may be diagnosed with. Staging is the process that shows if cancer has spread in the blood and bone marrow. These steps will help determine your particular stage of CLL. Learn more about each of the four stages below.
- In stage 0 CLL, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood, but there are no other signs or symptoms of leukemia. Stage 0 chronic lymphocytic leukemia is indolent (slow-growing).
- In stage I CLL, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and the lymph nodes are larger than normal.
- In stage II CLL, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood, the liver or spleen is larger than normal, and the lymph nodes may be larger than normal.
- In stage III CLL, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and there are too few red blood cells. The lymph nodes, liver, or spleen may be larger than normal.
- In stage IV CLL, there are too many lymphocytes in the blood and too few platelets. The lymph nodes, liver, or spleen may be larger than normal and there may be too few red blood cells.
For more information on stages of CLL, visit the National Cancer Institute (NCI) CLL treatment webpage.
Many people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia have no early symptoms. Those who do develop signs and symptoms may experience:
- Enlarged, but painless, lymph nodes.
- Pain in the upper left portion of the abdomen, which may be caused by an enlarged spleen.
- Night sweats.
- Weight loss.
- Frequent infections.
Factors that may increase the risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia include:
- Your age. This disease occurs most often in older adults. On average, people diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia are in their 70s.
- Your race. White males are more likely to develop chronic lymphocytic leukemia than are people of other races.
- Family history of blood and bone marrow cancers. A family history of chronic lymphocytic leukemia or other blood and bone marrow cancers may increase your risk.
- Exposure to chemicals. Certain herbicides and insecticides, including Agent Orange used during the Vietnam War, have been linked to an increased risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.