Hairy cell leukemia is a rare, slow-growing cancer of the blood in which your bone marrow makes too many B cells (lymphocytes), a type of white blood cell that fights infection. These excess B cells are abnormal and look "hairy" under a microscope.
These excess B cells are abnormal and look "hairy" under a microscope. Common symptoms of HCL includes persistently feeling tired, weakness, weight loss for no reason, shortness of breath, excessive sweating (most often at night), swollen lymph nodes, frequent infections and fevers, small red spots on the skin. The main treatment for hairy cell leukemia is chemotherapy, purine analog drugs -- either cladribine (2-CdA) or pentostatin, monoclonal antibody rituximab, surgery or interferon alpha.
The cause of this disease is unknown, although certain genetic changes (mutations) in the cancer cells have been found. It affects men more often than women. Clinical remission at a median of 6 years' follow-up results 80% of survival rate.