Leukemic reticuloendotheliosis; HCL; Leukemia – hairy cell
Definition of Hairy cell leukemia
Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is an unusual cancer of the blood. It affects B cells, a type of white blood cell (lymphocyte).
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
HCL is caused by the abnormal growth of B cells. The cells look “hairy” under the microscope because they have fine projections coming from their surface.
Signs and tests
During a physical exam, the doctor may be able to feel a or liver. An may be done to evaluate this swelling.
Treatment may not be needed for the early stages of this disease. Some patients may need an occasional blood transfusion.
Newer chemotherapy treatments have greatly improved the survival of patients with hairy cell leukemia. Most patients with hairy cell leukemia can expect to live 10 years or longer after diagnosis.
David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; James R. Mason, MD, Oncologist, Director, Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program and Stem Cell Processing Lab, Scripps Clinic, Torrey Pines, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/6/2010