What is the relevance of "Atypical Lymphocyte... - CLL Support

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What is the relevance of "Atypical Lymphocyte count"

markjeep51 profile image

The US Veterans Administration has recently added the parameter called "atypical lymphocyte count" to my periodic CBC blood test. I have CLL currently on a w & w protocol. My last blood test reported a WBC of 17,310/uL and my absolute lymphocyte count was 6,060/uL and my " lymphocyte count plus atypical count' was 6,230/uL; implying a atypical lymphocyte count of 170 (= 6,230 - 6,060). The "atypical lymphocyte count" was also reported as being 1% of my total WBC, which makes sense. I did a little research on the internet and learned that "atypical lymphocyte" is an abnormally shaped and structured lymphocyte and is Not malignant. The cause of such atypical lymphocyte is apparently due to virus, bacterial infection, and other causes. It is unclear to me and my oncologist why this parameter is now being measured as part of my routine CBC. My oncologist thought it might be part of a research program being conducted by the VA relative to a possible connection to leukemia or something else. So my question is this; is there any theoretical connection between atypical lymphocytes and CLL or any possible research going on in this area ?

2 Replies
Cllcanada profile image
CllcanadaTop Poster CURE Hero

Don't know...its usually associated with mononucleosis either EBV or CMV... Might be a research project in lymphomas, there has always been felt that these viuses have a role in CLL like they do in Burkett's lymphoma, but it has never been proven, conclusively in CLL...


lankisterguy profile image

Hi markjeep,

Here are some videos from my favorite explainer of blood tests: Dr. Susan LeClair that answer why some pathologists call them atypical and others call them reactive, but they are not "bad":


The term "atypical" was first coined in the 1920 by a physician called Downey. He thought that these cells were the cause of a specific condition he was investigating. In the 1960s, it turned out that he was totally incorrect. These cells are lymphocytes that are actually fighting off disease—which is the exact opposite of being the disease. Since then, the correct term for these cells is "reactive" since that more correctly reflects what they do. Having a few could mean that you were exposed to a cold virus or have a mild viral infection or were exposed to (and successfully fought off) any number of bacteria.


She has many more videos along the same lines patientpower.info/series/as...





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