LMH Health experiencing telephone issues | Learn More
COVID-19 Resources: Keeping you safe | Vaccine Information | Visitor Policy and Hours
View All Services
Find a New Primary Care Provider
Search by Specialty
View All Locations
Discover classes, events, tours, and groups that fit your interests.
Home > Be Healthy > Health Library > Hairy cell leukemia
Hairy cell leukemia is a very rare cancer that causes the body to make too many white blood cells (lymphocytes). Hairy cell leukemia has this name because the lymphocytes look hairy under a microscope.
When leukemia cells build up in the blood and bone marrow, there is less room for healthy blood cells. This can cause infections, anemia, and easy bleeding.
Symptoms of hairy cell leukemia (HCL) can include weakness, fever, weight loss, bruising easily, and repeated infections. The spleen may become swollen and painful.
HCL may grow very slowly or it may not get worse. So it often does not need to be treated right away. It is more common in men than in women. It occurs more often in adults in their 50s and is not seen in children or teens.
HCL is considered a chronic disease, because it does not ever go away completely. But treatment can keep symptoms away for long periods of time. And if a person who has HCL is under the care of a doctor, he or she can have a normal life expectancy.
Current as of: September 8, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Brian Leber MDCM, FRCPC - Hematology
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2021 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.