Many of us have discovered that we've had CLL some time before our eventual diagnosis, in some cases many, many years beforehand. The delay in diagnosis may be because our doctors have been aware of our higher than normal white blood count (due to our raised lymphocyte count) and have been keeping an eye on what they see as a chronic condition without any obvious symptoms, but usually it's just because any symptoms we may have are more easily explained by far more common health conditions. Jon Emery, Professor of Primary Care Cancer Research, University of Melbourne, Australia explains:
Some excerpts: 'A GP has to be able to assess the likelihood of multiple possible causes of symptoms, creating their own internal ranking of possible diagnoses. Cancer will often be quite low down this list of possible causes simply because, statistically, it is less likely.
So how soon should a doctor order key cancer diagnostic tests such as CT scans?...
...many tests to diagnose cancer are quite invasive, such as colonoscopy, and can have significant risks, such as puncturing your bowel. There is also growing recognition of the harms of radiation from multiple CT scans, including causing cancers.
In a publicly funded health-care system, we must also be cognisant of the economic costs of ordering moderately expensive tests when the chance of finding an abnormality is low.'
Photo: Irrigation channel criss-crossed with strands of gossamer spider silk glowing in the afternoon sun.