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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) Diagnosis

Diagnosing chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) requires a physical examination and examination of the blood. This includes review of a peripheral blood smear by the physician to identify CLL cells under the microscope. Then, a diagnostic test called "flow cytometry" is used to confirm the molecular markers on those cells are consistent with CLL cells.

Genetic testing, cytogenetics and other markers can help us define prognosis and select appropriate therapies.

In general, most patients can have a diagnosis based on a physical examination and blood test. Sometimes, a bone marrow biopsy may be necessary.

Getting A Second Opinion from Penn

If you were diagnosed at another health care center, and are coming to Penn Medicine's Abramson Cancer Center for treatment, or for a second opinion, additional diagnostic tests may be necessary.

Penn utilizes specific diagnostic imaging tools, tests and procedures that are often more modern than what is available elsewhere. The results of these tools help us to develop your personalized treatment plan.

In advance of your second opinion, we may request:

  • Pathology slides
  • Copies of recent images (CT scans, for example)
  • Health records
  • A list of dates and facts about your past treatments, personal health history, or any other facts and dates relevant to your current diagnosis

Come to your appointment with a list of as many questions as possible. Sometimes, it can be difficult to think of or remember everything during a visit. A list of questions prepared in advance will ensure you get the information you are looking for.

If you forget a question, or have more questions after your appointment, you can communicate with us via www.myPennMedicine.org, our secure patient portal. The portal allows for fluid communications with your entire team of health care providers.

Finally, plan to have a friend, family member or support person come with you to your diagnostic appointment. He or she can help take down information, recall the conversation and be of general support throughout the process.

CLL Diagnostic Tools

Learn how chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is diagnosed at Penn with these tests for CLL.

Staging CLL

Staging CLL can help your physician create a treatment plan for you.