When to treat CLL

Last Modified: May 11, 2003

Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
I was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) about 1 1/2 years ago. Today my white count is 27.5. I am going to start a five-week treatment of Rituxan. Is it really time to start? From what I have read, it seems early. 

Answer

Selina M. Luger, MD, Director of the Leukemia Program and Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

The decision to treat patients with CLL is not based on the absolute white blood count. We take into account how rapidly the white blood count rises as well as the effect the CLL has had on the liver, the spleen, the lymph nodes and the other blood counts (hemoglobin and platelets). It would be reasonable to discuss with your doctor what the reasons are for starting treatment at this time.

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