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Hairy Cell Leukemia

Abstract

You are reading a NORD Rare Disease Report Abstract. NORD’s full collection of reports on over 1200 rare diseases is available to subscribers (click here for details). We are now also offering two full rare disease reports per day to visitors on our Web site.

NORD is very grateful to Javier Munoz, MD, FACP, Hematology and Oncology, Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, Gilbert, Arizona, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Hairy Cell Leukemia

  • HCL
  • Leukemic Reticuloendotheliosis

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

General Discussion
Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) is a rare type of blood cancer characterized by abnormal changes in white blood cells known as B lymphocytes. The bone marrow creates too many of these defective cells, known as "hairy cells" because of the thin hair-like projections found on their surface. Overproduction and accumulation of hairy cells causes a deficiency of normal blood cells (pancytopenia), including an abnormal decrease of certain white blood cells (neutrophils [neutropenia]) and certain red blood cells (platelets [thrombocytopenia]). Affected individuals usually exhibit fatigue, weakness, fever, weight loss, and/or abdominal discomfort due to an abnormally enlarged spleen (splenomegaly). In addition, affected individuals may have a slightly enlarged liver (hepatomegaly) and may be unusually susceptible to bruising and/or severe infection. The exact cause of hairy cell leukemia is not known.

Organizations related to Hairy Cell Leukemia

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