What is hairy cell leukaemia?

Hairy cell leukaemia (HCL) is a rare type of chronic leukaemia. It develops slowly from white cells called B lymphocytes. 

Hairy cell leukaemia variant (HCL-V)

Hairy cell leukaemia variant (HCL-V) is a separate type of leukaemia from the typical or classic hairy cell leukaemia.

Symptoms of hairy cell leukaemia

Symptoms of hairy cell leukemia include frequent infections and swelling of the tummy. Some people don't have symptoms.

Getting diagnosed with hairy cell leukaemia

You usually start by seeing your GP and they might refer you to a specialist and organise tests. Find out more about tests and screening for hairy cell leukaemia.

Survival for hairy cell leukaemia

Hairy cell leukaemia usually develops slowly and can be kept under control for many years with treatment.

Treatment for hairy cell leukaemia

There are different treatments for hairy cell leukaemia. You might have one treatment, or a combination. The main treatment is chemotherapy. 

Staging hairy cell leukaemia

The stage means how far your leukaemia has developed. There is no widely agreed staging system for hairy cell leukaemia.

Research and clinical trials

Researchers around the world are looking into the causes and treatment of hairy cell leukaemia. 

Risks and causes of hairy cell leukaemia

We don’t know what causes hairy cell leukaemia. But there are some factors that might increase your risk of developing it.

Living with hairy cell leukaemia

Lots of support is available to help you and your family cope with your diagnosis and treatment.

Last reviewed: 
20 Oct 2021
Next review due: 
20 Oct 2024
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