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Screening for CLL

Screening means testing people for early stages of a disease before they have any symptoms. For screening to be useful the tests:

  • need to be reliable at picking up cancers
  • overall must do more good than harm to people taking part
  • must be something that people are willing to do

Screening tests are not perfect and have some risks. The screening programme should also be good value for money for the NHS.

Why is there no screening for CLL?

There is no national screening programme because:

  • this condition is very rare, so many people would have unnecessary tests
  • the benefits don't outweigh the costs

Talk to your GP if you think you are at higher than average risk of CLL.

CLL is different from most cancers because it is not usually possible to cure it but it is a very slowly developing disease. Some people live for many years without symptoms or treatment.

These people are monitored closely by their doctor. This monitoring is called watchful waiting. If the leukaemia starts to cause symptoms treatment can then control the CLL for a long time.