DefinitionBy Mayo Clinic Staff
Hairy cell leukemia is a rare, slow-growing cancer of the blood in which your bone marrow makes too many B cells (lymphocytes), a type of white blood cell that fights infection.
These excess B cells are abnormal and look "hairy" under a microscope. As the number of leukemia cells increases, fewer healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets are produced.
Hairy cell leukemia affects more men than women, and it occurs most commonly in middle-aged or older adults.
Hairy cell leukemia is considered a chronic disease because it may never completely disappear, although treatment can lead to a remission for years.
March 17, 2015
- Lichtman MA, et al. Williams Hematology. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookId=358. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014.
- Jain P, et al. Update on the biology and treatment options for hairy cell leukemia. Current Treatment Opinions in Oncology. 2014;15:187.
- Naik RR, et al. My treatment approach to hairy cell leukemia. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2012;87:67.
- Tallman MS, et al. Clinical features and diagnosis of hairy cell leukemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 8, 2014.
- Hoffman R, et al. Hematology: Basic Principles and Practice. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 16, 2014.
- Hairy cell leukemia treatment (PDQ): Health professional version. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/treatment/hairy-cell-leukemia/HealthProfessional/page1. Accessed Nov. 8, 2014.
- Tallman MS, et al. Treatment of hairy cell leukemia. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Nov. 8, 2014.
- Integrative medicine & complementary and alternative therapies as part of blood cancer care. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/#/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/treatment/integrativemedandcam. Accessed Nov. 8, 2014