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Treatment for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) varies from no treatment at all ("watch and wait"), to more intensive treatments such as chemotherapy and transplant. When the disease is mild, patients may be watched carefully and may have frequent blood tests. These patients may live many years without any treatment before the disease begins to cause problems.

When the disease becomes more serious and the patient starts having more symptoms, chemotherapy and other treatments may be used. Chemotherapy is a treatment that uses a group of medicines that destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing. Other drugs used to treat CLL include steroids. Different drugs are sometimes combined to increase their ability to fight the disease.

There are also newer drugs called monoclonal antibodies. These medicines fight the disease by latching onto the surface of CLL cells and causing the body's immune system to attack them. Monoclonal antibodies are a form of what is called targeted therapies. They may be used together with chemotherapy drugs.

Learn more about transplant and other treatment options.