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Diagnosing Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia has an insidious debut. Suspicion of the disease occurs in patients who have lasting lymphocytosis, possibly combined with anemia, thrombocytopenia, enlarged lymph nodes and/or a B-symptom. The patient often does not have symptoms at the time of diagnosis and the disease is discovered coincidentally by examination for other reasons.

Three out of five patients are asymptomatic when the diagnosis is made. 

The disease is characterized by an elevation of small, mature-appearing lymphocytes in blood, bone marrow, and lymphoid organs.

Previously, it was common to use the expression chronic lymphocytic leukemia in patients who presented with lasting lymphocytosis with mature-appearing lymphocytes. In the majority of cases, this fits with how we use the description also today, however, with the introduction of new diagnostic methods, such as immunophenotyping and karyotyping, it is evident that leukemic forms of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are an important differential diagnostic group. It is essential to differentiate between leukemia of B-cell and T-cell types.


  • Suspicion of chronic lymphocytic leukemia 


  • Confirm the diagnosis
  • Prognostic assessment
  • Assess whether there is indication for treatment 








Norsk selskap for hematologi. Handlingsprogram for kronisk lymfatisk leukemi [Online] 2005 [hentet 15. april 2007]; tilgjengelig fra: URL:

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