About Hairy Cell Leukemia
Hairy cell leukemia is a rare type of lymphoid leukemia often classified as a subtype of CLL, and is usually slow-growing. However, there is a variant (called HCL-V) which behaves more aggressively. The disease is called hairy cell leukemia because the leukemia cells look "hairy" when viewed under a microscope.
In hairy cell leukemia, as in other lymphoid leukemias, too many blood stem cells develop into lymphocytes. These lymphocytes are abnormal and do not become healthy white blood cells. They may also be called leukemic cells. The leukemic cells can build up in the blood and bone marrow so there is less room for healthy white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. This may cause infection, anemia and easy bleeding. Some of the leukemia cells may collect in the spleen and cause it to swell.