Chronic lymphocytic leukemia prognosis
The majority of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia live for 5-10 years or more because this is a slowly progressing disease and relatively benign. Patients who die from chronic lymphocytic leukemia usually go through a terminal phase that is more rapidly progressive and lasts for 1 or 2 years. In other cases, patients develop complications and these may be as severe as to cause their death 2 or 3 years after diagnosis.
Still, the prognosis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia widely depends on the stage of the disease at the moment of diagnosis, the presence of certain risk markers and complications at some point of the disease.
The most common complications are:
• Infections: They are caused by a weakened immune system. What is usually a mild or harmless infection in normal patients may become severe and life-threatening in patients with lymphocytic leukemia.
• Ritcher’s syndrome: In some cases, chronic lymphocytic leukemia turns into lymphoma, and this transformation is named Ritcher’s syndrome. It is an aggressive complication that should be treated promptly with chemotherapy and other medications.
• Autoimmune hemolytic anemia: The immune dysfunction in chronic lymphocytic anemia may lead to autoimmune conditions. In autoimmune hemolytic anemia, the immune system attacks red blood cells and destroys them. It results in severe anemia that is treated with steroids and other medications.