Fatigue, weight loss, shortness of breath, night sweats and enlarged lymph nodes are common stage-4 symptoms of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center states. Individuals may experience lightheadedness, fever, loss of appetite or fullness in the abdomen or frequently contract skin and respiratory infections.
The majority of people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, don’t have symptoms in the early stages, which may last for years, according to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. CLL develops when diseased blood cells, known as lymphocytes, are unable to perform normal immune functions and progressively crowd the lymphatic system and bone marrow. The lymphocytes fail to reach maturity and gradually interfere with the healthy production of red and white blood cells and platelets.
In stage 4 of CLL, the excessive buildup of faulty lymphocytes may drastically reduce white blood cells and the amount of platelets in the blood, the National Cancer Center explains. Doctors periodically take blood samples to evaluate changes in composition, and they also observe the patient’s spleen, liver and lymph nodes to determine if they are dangerously enlarged. The antiglobulin, or Coombs test, is another common diagnostic procedure, which involves scanning the surfaces of platelets and red blood cells for destructive antibodies. Doctors may conduct diagnostic imaging tests, such as CT scans, chest X-rays and MRI scans, to evaluate any damaging effects to organs and lymph nodes.