Chronic lymphocytic leukemia may cause complications such as:

  • Frequent infections. People with chronic lymphocytic leukemia may experience frequent infections. In most cases, these infections are common infections of the upper and lower respiratory tract. But sometimes more-serious infections can develop.
  • A switch to a more aggressive form of cancer. A small number of people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia may develop a more aggressive form of cancer called diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Doctors sometimes refer to this switch as Richter's syndrome.
  • Increased risk of other cancers. People with chronic lymphocytic leukemia have an increased risk of other types of cancer, including skin cancer, such as melanoma, and cancers of the lung and the digestive tract.
  • Immune system problems. A small number of people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia may develop an immune system problem that causes the disease-fighting cells of the immune system to mistakenly attack the red blood cells or the platelets.
Apr. 26, 2013