Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) symptoms usually develop over time. Early in the course of the disease, CLL often has little effect on a person’s well-being. Some people with CLL do not have any symptoms. The disease may be suspected because of abnormal results from blood tests that were ordered either as part of an annual physical or a medical examination for an unrelated condition. An unexplained elevated white blood cell (lymphocyte) count is the most common finding that leads a doctor to consider a CLL diagnosis.
People with CLL who do have symptoms may
- Tire more easily, and/or feel short of breath during day-to-day physical activities—as a result of anemia (low red blood cell count)
- Lose weight because of decreased appetite and/or increased use of energy
- Have lymph nodes and a spleen that may become enlarged as a result of an accumulation of CLL cells (leukemic lymphocytes)
- Have infections of the skin, lungs, kidneys or other sites that may occur as result of low immunoglobulin levels and decreased neutrophil counts.