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Tests for CLL Patients: Health History and Exam
Posted: Jun 22, 2023
Tests for CLL Patients: Health History and Exam image

CLL patients should receive the following physical health tests to help identify the stage of the disease, risk factors, and assess their overall health. The information gained from these health tests helps determine treatment decisions for the patient. 

Physical health tests CLL patients can expect 

  • Check lymph node areas, spleen, and liver for pain and/or swelling
  • Review CLL-related symptoms 
  • Personal and family medical history report 
  • Review the patient’s ability to physically take care of themselves (ECOG performance status test) 

Physical exam

CLL patients can expect their doctor to check their physical health to help identify if there are any physical manifestations of CLL. 

  • Review blood pressure, heart rate, weight, and body temperature
  • Check for any pain and swelling/enlargement of body areas that may have a build-up of CLL cells such as in the lymph nodes (neck, armpit, groin area), spleen, and/or liver (each CLL patient may present the disease differently) 

Review CLL Symptoms

CLL patients will be asked if they are experiencing any of the following disease-related symptoms. Doctors often refer to these as B symptoms. 

  • Severe fatigue
  • Drenching night sweats
  • Unintended loss of at least 10 percent of the patient’s body weight within 6 months
  • Fever without an infection

Medical History 

Patients can expect their care team to ask about their health history. Topics may include:  

  • History of illnesses (infections and injuries) 
  • Current diet and activity level 
  • Medicines taking (prescribed medications, over-the-counter medicines, pain killers, herbs, and supplements) 
  • Prior surgeries
  • History of blood transfusions
  • History of smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Health and cancer history of family members (an individual is 8 times more likely to develop CLL if there is a family history) 

ECOG Performance Status 

The patient’s doctor will ask them about their ability to complete day-to-day activities. The test used is called The Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Performance Status test. The scoring system includes:  

0 - Fully active, able to carry on all pre-disease performance without restriction

1 - Restricted in physically strenuous activity but ambulatory and able to carry out work of a light or sedentary nature, e.g., light housework, office work

2 - Ambulatory and capable of all self-care but unable to carry out any work activities; up and about more than 50% of waking hours

3 - Capable of only limited self-care; confined to bed or chair for more than 50% of waking hours

4 - Completely disabled; cannot carry on any self-care; totally confined to bed or chair

5 - The patient is deceased

Talk to your CLL specialist about any questions that you may have related to medical tests. Need help finding a CLL specialist? Check out HealthTree’s CLL specialist directory here

The author Megan Heaps

about the author
Megan Heaps

Megan joined HealthTree as a Community Coordinator for CLL in 2022. She is the daughter of a blood cancer patient and has found a passion for helping support patients and caregivers to advance research for their cure and improve their quality of life. In her spare time, she loves to be around family, sew, and cook. 

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