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Signs and Symptoms of Hairy Cell Leukemia

Hairy cell leukemia is a rare, slow-growing form of chronic leukemia that does not develop into acute leukemia. There is no cure, but hairy cell leukemia can be kept in remission for years. The term “hairy cell” describes the abnormal shape of the white blood cells (B cells) that characterize this disorder. We have put together a list of common signs and symptoms of hairy cell leukemia below.

Also, we have information on diagnosis, helpful books and valuable resources for patients.

The Signs and Symptoms of Hairy Cell Leukemia are as follows:

  • Infections related to low white blood cell count
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue
  • Easy bleeding
  • A feeling of fullness after eating
  • A feeling of only being able to eat a little bit of food at a time
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged spleen

Some people have no signs and symptoms of hairy cell leukemia, and the disease is discovered during a routine blood test.

The signs and symptoms of hairy cell leukemia are common to other conditions as well; if you experience any of these signs and symptoms of leukemia, please see your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

Hairy cell leukemia occurs most often in men after the age of fifty. Exposure to radiation and chemicals increases your risk of having signs and symptoms of hairy cell leukemia.

Diagnosis of Hairy Cell Leukemia

A diagnosis of hairy cell leukemia is made through a complete blood count. People with hairy cell leukemia are low in all three types of blood cells – white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. Another type of blood test called a peripheral smear can identify the hairy cells based on the appearance of the cells.

Some people with hairy cell leukemia have an enlarged spleen, which can be felt by the doctor.  As well, a bone marrow biopsy is done to look for hairy cells; this often serves as a final diagnosis.

Books For People With Signs and Symptoms of Hairy Cell Leukemia

Hairy Cell Leukemia – A Medical Dictionary, Bibliography, and Annotated Research Guide to Internet References
ICON Health Publications
21st Century Ultimate Medical Guide to Hairy Cell Leukemia – Authoritative, Practical Clinical Information for Physicians and Patients, Treatment Options (Two CD-ROM Set)
PM Medical Health News

The Official Patient’s Sourcebook on Hairy Cell Leukemia
James N. Parker
Hairy Cell and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia: Thirty Years of Progress
Andrew T. Huang

Hairy Cell Leukemia Resources

General Patient Resources

  • National Cancer Institute

Expert-reviewed information summary about the treatment of hairy cell leukemia.

  • Hairy Cell Leukemia Research Foundation

The Hairy Cell Leukemia Research Foundation, Inc. is dedicated to the support of scientific research into the causes, diagnoses and treatment of hairy cell leukemia and other adult leukemias. The mission of the Hairy Cell Leukemia Research Foundation, Inc. is to provide a network of support and information for patients and their families and to help fund research.

  • Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Our Leukemia Cancer Center is your source for hairy cell leukemia treatment information. At CTCA we treat hairy cell leukemia with a powerful combination of conventional and alternative therapies.

  • WD

Information including symptoms, diagnosis, misdiagnosis, treatment, causes, patient stories, videos, forums, prevention, and prognosis.

  • Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

A US Department of Health and Human Service project providing information on genetic and rare diseases. A comprehensive body of resources on hairy cell leukemia.

  • The Hairy Cell Leukemia Consortium Forum

Please use this forum to meet other people affected by Hairy Cell Leukemia. Have you been diagnosed with HCL or has someone you care about been diagnosed?

  • Finding Dulcinea

Use this Web Guide to find blogs, forums and other ways to connect with people who have hairy cell leukemia.

Medical Resources

  • Mayo Clinic

Comprehensive overview covers treatment, diagnosis, symptoms, complications of this rare blood cancer.

  • Web MD

General information about hairy cell leukemia.