Therapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) sometimes produces side effects. Side effects from monoclonal antibody therapy are generally milder than side effects from chemotherapy.
For most patients, treatment side effects are temporary and go away once therapy ends. For other patients, side effects can be more severe, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Some patients never have side effects.
Before you undergo treatment, talk with your doctor about potential side effects. Drugs and other therapies can prevent or manage many side effects.
Common Side Effects
Chemotherapy drugs are the main culprits when it comes to causing unwanted side effects. These drugs can kill cancer cells, but they but damage normal cells, too. The lining of the mouth, throat, stomach and intestines are particularly vulnerable to damage. What's more, CLL produces symptoms that can be made worse by treatment.
Side effects common to chemotherapy and, to a lesser extent, monoclonal antibody therapy and other drug therapies, include:
- extreme fatigue
- hair loss
- nausea and vomiting
- mouth sores
- aches and pains
- low blood pressure
- low levels of red cells, white cells and platelets in the blood
- anemia (caused by a low red cell count)
When monoclonal antibodies are injected into a vein, they can sometimes cause temporary fever, chills or low blood pressure.
For side effects information, please see the free LLS publication Understanding Drug Therapy and Managing Side Effects and the FDA drug information webpage.
Long-Term and Late Effects
For some patients, side effects may last well after they finish treatment. To read more about lingering side effects, see Long-Term and Late Effects of Treatment for Adults.
More to Explore
- Tips to prevent and manage side effects
- Well-being during treatment
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free booklet Understanding Drug Therapy and Managing Side Effects
- Download questions to ask your doctor about side effects
- Download questions to ask your doctor about pain management