Secondary leukaemia

A leukaemia which develops following previous chemotherapy or radiotherapy or a pre-existing condition, such as myelodysplasia or polycythaemia rubra vera.

Septicaemia

A general term to describe serious bacterial infection of the blood stream often associated with high fever.

Serum

The liquid part of the blood which remains after cells have been removed and the blood has been allowed to clot. The only difference between plasma and serum is that serum cannot form a clot. There are some blood tests which are normally done on serum and some on plasma.

Shingles

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is an infection of a nerve and the skin around it. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox. Anyone who has had Chickenpox can suffer from shingles. All CLL patients have a damaged immune system. This means that you can get shingles more often, it can spread through your body faster, and you could be in pain for some time.

Small Molecules

is a low molecular weight , <900 daltons, organic compound that may help regulate a biological process, with a size on the order of 10−9m. Most drugs are small molecules.

Spleen

The spleen is a body organ on the left of the body, just under the diaphragm. It is part of the lymphatic system and filters the blood of old red blood cells and bacteria and other foreign bodies. The spleen also acts as a store for platelets and contains lymph node tissue and many lymphocytes. The spleen is often enlarged in leukaemia and may be removed as part of treatment for some cancers.

Splenectomy

Surgery to take out the spleen. This is sometimes done in leukaemia or lymphoma as part of a patient’s treatment.

Splenomegaly

Enlargement of the spleen.

Staging

An assessment of the spread of disease through the body, for example in lymphoma. It is important for deciding on the best treatment. There are two schemes commonly used in CLL.

Binet Staging   commonly used in Europe

RAI Staging     commonly used in United States

Stem cells

The most primitive cells in the bone marrow from which all the various types of blood cell which develop into

Myeloid stem cells – become white blood cells called monocytes and neutrophils (a type of granulocyte)

Lymphoid stem cells – become white blood cells called lymphocytes

Erythroblasts – become red blood cells

Megakaryocytes – become platelets

Stem cell transplant

A procedure used to treat a variety of blood disorders including leukaemia, lymphoma and sometimes myeloma. The patient receives very high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy to treat the disease and suppress the immune system. This damages the bone marrow and makes the blood count fall. Replacement stem cells are taken from a matched donor – allogeneic stem cell transplant or from the patient themselves -autologous stem cell transplant under a general anaesthetic and returned to the patient through a vein (or central venous line) in a similar way to a blood transfusion. Peripheral blood stem cells are now used more commonly than bone marrow. Cord blood stem cells also may be used.

Subcutaneous injection

An injection into tissue immediately under the skin.

Supportive care

Supportive care includes aspects such as prevention and treatment of infection, blood transfusions, mouthcare, diet, pain management and dealing with complications of your illness or of your treatment.