Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms

Hairy Cell Leukemia Overview

What is hairy cell leukemia?
A person with hairy cell leukemia has a rare type of cancer of the blood. Hairy cell leukemia affects the B cells making them grow abnormally. This type of cancer affects men more than women. The underlying cause for hairy cell leukemia is not clear, although exposure to radiation, agricultural chemicals, and wood dust have been implicated. Some believe prior history of infectious mononucleosis may play some role.

What are the symptoms of hairy cell leukemia?
The symptoms of hairy cell leukemia include fatigue, pale skin, diaphoresis, easy bruising, easy bleeding, generalized weakness, fever, and swollen lymph glands.

How does the doctor treat hairy cell leukemia?
The treatment of hairy cell leukemia includes medications if one has very low blood counts. Blood transfusions may also be occasionally needed. Other medications that are used to treat hairy cell leukemia include rituximab, 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine (Leustatin), pentostatin or 2-deoxycoformycin (Nipent), interferon alfa-2b (Intron A), and filgrastim or G-CSF (Neupogen)

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Last Updated: Sep 24, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Hairy Cell Leukemia References
  1. Grever MR. How I treat hairy cell leukemia. Blood. 2010 Jan 7;115(1):21-8. Epub 2009 Oct 20. [19843881]
  2. Sahar N, Schiby G, Davidson T, Kneller A, Apter S, Farfel Z. Hairy cell leukemia presenting as multiple discrete hepatic lesions. World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Sep 21;15(35):4453-6. [19764101]
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