Even your doctor cannot determine your chronic lymphocytic leukemia life expectancy. The most realistic answer that you will get to this question is an educated guess. Using your medical history, your current blood cell counts and judging from the way that you have been responding to cancer treatment therapies, a general life expectancy range can be established.
Generally, questions about life expectancy only arise when a patient has either just been diagnosed, or if the patient feels that his or her prognosis is poor. This may occur after a stem cell transplant has not gone as planned, or when radiation therapy is not working to kill off as many cancerous cells as expected.
Although chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a serious disorder, there are other forms of cancer that have even poorer patient prognosis rates. For instance, hairy cell leukemia is found mainly in middle aged women, and patients can die only weeks after first being diagnosed. By comparison, chronic myelogenous leukemia is found in equal rates among men and women, and can occur early in adulthood or later in life. Neither of these diseases has any set life expectancy rate.
Another reason that life expectancy ranges can vary is because not all patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia receive the same level of care. If you were to ask your general practitioner approximately how long you have to live, you may receive no response or a very wide range. This is because doctors will not want to give you unrealistic expectations, and yet they will not want to give you cause for alarm.
The good news is that being diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have a short life. The sooner that you are able to begin intensive cancer treatment, the better your chances will be. Remember that doctors are just as cautious when treating childhood leukemia and other forms of blood cancer. These serious diseases weigh heavily on the minds of patients and their loved ones alike. Stay positive, continue to seek more education on this illness and make positive lifestyle changes that will help to impact your recovery.