Doctors aren't certain what starts the process that causes chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Doctors know that something happens in order to cause a genetic mutation in the DNA of blood-producing cells. This mutation causes the blood cells to produce abnormal, ineffective lymphocytes — one type of white blood cell that helps your body fight infection.

Beyond being ineffective, these abnormal lymphocytes continue to live and multiply, when normal lymphocytes would die. The abnormal lymphocytes accumulate in the blood and certain organs, where they cause complications. They may crowd healthy cells out of the bone marrow and interfere with normal blood cell production.

Doctors and researchers are working to understand the exact mechanism that causes chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Apr. 26, 2013

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