CLL Can Leave You Immunocompromised. Here’s How to Manage

This article was originally posted by Healthline

  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that attacks white blood cells, affecting your body’s ability to fight off infection.
  • CLL leaves you immunocompromised, increasing your risk of infection, other cancers, autoimmune conditions, and severe complications from COVID-19.
  • Taking steps to stay healthy and boost immunity can help you stay well with CLL.

Your bone marrow plays an important role in your body. It produces versatile stem cells that become specific types of blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen to the body, platelets stop bleeding, and white blood cells combat infection to keep you healthy.

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer that starts in your bone marrow. CLL changes your infection-fighting white blood cells and interferes with how they function. As a result, CLL weakens the immune system.

Read on for more information, plus tips for how to manage being immunocompromised when you have CLL.

CLL and your immune system

There are several types of white blood cells, but lymphocytes are the ones primarily involved in CLL.

Healthy lymphocytes protect you against viral, bacterial, and fungal infections that can make you sick. When you have CLL, your body produces abnormal lymphocytes called leukemia cells, which don’t fight infection as well as lymphocytes.

With CLL, your bone marrow still produces normal white blood cells, but the leukemia cells multiply faster and live longer than the healthy ones. As they reproduce, these leukemia cells take over space in your bone marrow, leaving less room for healthy white blood cells. Because the leukemia cells don’t fight infection well, as their numbers increase, your immunity decreases.

To continue reading this article on Healthline