Being diagnosed with CLL

CLL is often diagnosed following a routine blood test and you may have had no symptoms at all. If you have symptoms, your GP will examine you and take a blood test. If they think you have CLL, they will refer you to a haematologist for further tests. A haematologist is a doctor who specialises in diagnosing and treating blood problems.

At the hospital

The haematologist will ask you about any illnesses or health problems you’ve had. They will examine you to check whether your lymph nodes, spleen or liver are enlarged. You will also have more blood tests. This is to check the number of different cells in your blood (a full blood count) and to look for leukaemia cells.

If the blood tests show there are leukaemia cells in your blood, the haematologist will arrange further tests. This is to find out which type of leukaemia you have and what stage it is. The results of these tests will help them plan your treatment.

In most people with CLL, the leukaemia cells are mainly in the blood stream and the bone marrow. In some people, the leukaemia cells are mainly in the lymph nodes. In this case, the disease is called small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). CLL and SLL are now considered to be the same disease, so you may hear doctors refer to it as CLL/SLL.

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