What’s the Difference Between CLL and SLL?

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Topics include: Treatments

Is there a difference between being diagnosed with SLL versus CLL?  On location at a recent town meeting, Patient Power host, Andrew Schorr, asks Dr. Nicole Lamanna, a CLL specialist at Columbia University Medical Center this very question.  Dr. Lamanna briefly describes the origin of these two diagnoses, giving patients insight into how doctors identify these B-cell disorders.

Provided by CLL Global Research Foundation, which received support from Acerta Pharma, Gilead Sciences, Inc., Pharmacyclics, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd and TG Therapeutics, Inc. and the Patient Empowerment Network, which received support from AbbVie Inc. and Genentech Inc. It was produced by Patient Power in partnership with The Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia University Medical Center.

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Produced in association with , and Columbia University Medical Center

Transcript

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Andrew Schorr:

What is SLL, and what is its relationship to CLL?

Dr. Lamanna:      

Yeah, absolutely. So I think the terminology gets very confusing for patients. But it really is—SLL stands for small lymphocytic lymphoma, okay? CLL is chronic lymphocytic leukemia. They’re a disorder of the same B cell. So they’re under the microscope, exactly the same, okay? But what they mean if your doctor says, oh, well you have SLL, what they’re really referring to is that you solely have lymph node involvement. 

So we know that CLL—we were just talking about the bone marrow before. But CLL also involves the lymph nodes. Think of the lymph nodes as part of your—they’re part of your hermatapoietic, or your blood system, and they actually help fight infection. We all have lymph nodes. But the lymphocytes can aggregate in those lymph nodes and become plump over time.

And so for patients who have CLL, you can have both bone marrow involvement, lymph node involvement, even organ, so spleen and liver. Think of the spleen as a big lymph node. But SLL patients are truly patients who have just lymph node involvement. Their bone marrow doesn’t have the lymphocytes infiltrating their bone marrow. So they tend to be the same—we treat you guys the same, okay? You just don’t have bone marrow involvement. And sometimes the doctors loosely throw the terms around, because you might actually have some bone marrow involvement. But because your disease is mostly lymph node, or you have bulky lymph nodes, they might just say, well, you’re SLL-like. It’s the same thing. Don’t get confused. 

Andrew Schorr:                

Okay. So when we’re talking about the genetic variations, that’s significant. SLL versus CLL, not so much.

Dr. Lamanna:      

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Related Programs

What Is CLL vs. SLL?

Dr. William Wierda from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston explains the difference between CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) and SLL (small lymphocytic lymphoma).

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Page last updated on June 30, 2016