Hairy Cell Leukemia

Hairy cell leukemia is a rare cancer of the blood and bone marrow that tends to get worse slowly or does not get worse at all. The disease is called hairy cell leukemia because the leukemia cells look “hairy” when viewed under a microscope.

A lymphoid stem cell becomes a lymphoblast cell and then becomes one of three types of lymphocytes. In hairy cell leukemia, too many blood stem cells become abnormal lymphocytes, also called leukemia cells. The leukemia cells can build up in the blood and bone marrow so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may cause infection, anemia, and easy bleeding. Some of the leukemia cells may collect in the spleen and cause it to swell.

Gender and age may affect the risk of hairy cell leukemia, and it occurs more often in older men.

Hairy Cell Leukemia Treatment (PDQ®)

Source: National Cancer Institute