Good question. Because CLL is often very slow in progressing, current practice is that there is no benefit in treating most people with CLL when they are first diagnosed. Some people, roughly a third, will never need treatment, whilst another third won’t need treatment for several years. The final third of patients will need early treatment.
All treatments have side effects, and it is considered best to put most people on a system of active monitoring, also known as ‘Watch and Wait’. This means that you will be seen regularly by your medical team, who will carefully assess you to see how your disease is behaving. They will look at what stage your CLL is. See more below. Have a look at our animation, which explains more about ‘Watch and Wait’.
Once diagnosed, your consultant will ‘stage’ your CLL. Staging is used to describe where the CLL is located and the extent to which the CLL is affecting the blood count and the number and size of lymph nodes. Staging CLL in this way helps your consultant to predict how quickly the cancer may grow and to keep track of it.
Find out more about staging here.