CLL Support Association


When does MBL become CLL? I was diagnosed with MBL in 2015 with an actual wbc of 19. Last month my haematologist discharged me to my GP to monitor on watch and wait. I am to have six monthly blood checks to check for doubling of wbc. My current actual wbc is 37. So what else will my GP be looking for in six months time? I feel a bit lost without the safety net of the haematologist

5 Replies

I was monitored by my GP for 10 years... quite common in indolent disease..

White blood cell count [WBC] is not a very good indicator in CLL because of a high percent of neutrophils... you want to track your absolute lymphocyte count [ALC] ... which removes the neutrophils from the WBC count.

However to have a CLL diagnosis

The diagnosis of CLL requires the presence of at least 5 X 10 to the 9thpower B lymphocytes/L (5000/ L) in the peripheral blood. The clonality of the circulating B lymphocytes needs to be confirmed by flow cytometry.

Vaguely you could use an absolute lymphocyte count [ALC] in the region of 10k-12K... it would probably correlate to a raised B cell count... that's how it was done 20 years ago...



Now that is where I get confused as my actual white blood count is 37. Does that not put me in CLL ?


An elevated WBC can have other causes and is not definitive for CLL. Have you had a Flow Cytometry test done? That would confirm the diagnosis. I assume that your doctor will be looking for any changes in your WBC, and more importantly in the differentials (parts of the WBC) - your absolute (not %s) lymphoclyes and neutrophils in particular, your HGB, your platelets, and for changes in any other areas that would indicate a problem. Minor ups and downs, even slightly outside the in range numbers at your lab, are not of great concern. A major change in any of your numbers should be rechecked for lab error. Beyond the occasional issue of lab error, your doctor should be looking at your overall patterns more than at individual results.


This is a very good description of MBL;



Thank you


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