CLL cannot be diagnosed by symptoms alone. In fact, you are often not the first to notice your CLL. CLL is usually detected by routine checkups, or blood work for other health issues. Your doctor will need to use medical tests to diagnose your CLL. Medical tests will also tell where CLL is in your body.

Common tests for diagnosis or prior treatment:

  • Physical exam—your doctor checks for swollen lymph nodes, liver, or spleen and other signs of CLL
  • Blood cell counts—your blood is taken through a vein and examined in a lab. Most people with CLL have a high white blood cell count
  • Biopsy—a small sample of bone marrow or lymph node is removed and viewed under a microscope
  • Flow cytometry—a sample of your cells is examined using a laser beam and a computer to find out the type of cancer and the number of cells involved

Common tests to find out where CLL is in your body include:

  • Imaging tests such as CT scans—these are pictures of the inside of your body that help show where CLL is