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Roundup might increase chances of developing chronic lymphocytic leukemia

Monsanto's glyphosate-based weed killer, Roundup, has seen a spike in media attention lately as more and more evidence of its toxicity comes to light.

Previously deemed "as safe as table salt" by agrochemical campaigners, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) deemed it a "probable carcinogen" in 2015 and found a link between the use of glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL).

NHL is a type of cancer of the lymphocytes (or white blood cells), which are the cells your body uses to suppress infections and outside pathogens. The most common form of NHL is also one of the mildest.

Known as either chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) or small lymphocytic lymphoma, it represents around 30% of all diagnosed cases of NHL.

The good, the bad, and the ugly of chronic lymphocytic leukemia

CLL takes a relatively long time to develop, grow, and reach its final stages. The vast majority of patients won't exhibit any symptoms for the first few years. Even before the advent of modern therapy methods, the prognosis for a CLL sufferer was in excess of 25 years, with the average individual being diagnosed at 78 years of age.

In its early stages, the disease (usually) requires no treatment, but by stage IV, when cancer has spread to the skin, eye sockets, lungs, heart, and gastrointestinal tract, interventions such as chemotherapy and antibody therapy will be required.

The good news is that CLL is known to respond well to treatment, the bad news is that this can get quite expensive, with an average cost of $122.520 per year in the US.

Even when the slow progression of CLL allows for the therapy to be delayed, regular doctor visits and blood tests can end up making a significant dent in the patient's income once oncologists decide that treatment is required.

We recommend that those affected by CCL seek all avenues of covering medical expenses: charities, cancer patient grants, and even pursuing litigation if toxic exposure appears to be a plausible factor.

Diagnosing chronic lymphocytic leukemia and its pitfalls

CLL begins developing when mutated varieties of lymphocytes - collectively known as leukocytes - start multiplying very rapidly. These are less effective than their healthy counterparts at combatting infection and can over-strain the bone marrow that produces blood cells, significantly decreasing the number of "real" lymphocytes available to the body.

When the number of healthy white cells decreases enough, the body has a harder time fighting pathogens, and the following symptoms might appear:

  • Light and constant fever
  • Night sweats
  • A sense of fatigue, and tiring quickly even after light manual labor
  • Susceptibility to bacterial and fungal infections
  • Loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
  • Shortness of breath

Relatively early on in the progression of CLL, the bone marrow and lymph nodes will start developing cancerous tumors. This can cause visible swelling in the lymph nodes at the top of your neck, armpits, abdomen, and groin.

Most often, the nodes will be painless and hard to the touch and can enlarge or shrink over time as cancerous tissue grows or remises.

CLL is most often diagnosed during routine blood examinations when doctors observe an unusually high number of lymphocytes in the patient's blood. In 50-75% of all cases, none of the above symptoms are present.

It is extremely important that thorough medical investigations are regularly carried out from this point onward, as CCL is closely related to more severe conditions, such as:

  • T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia - looks similar to CCL, and until recently, it was considered by doctors a fast-acting variety of the disease.
  • B cell prolymphocytic leukemia (PLL) - is a rare but aggressive form of leukemia. Around 25% of the cases of CLL can progress into PLL.
  • Richter's syndrome occurs in 3-15% of CLL patients - it's usually accompanied by significant enlargement of the lymph nodes, liver, and spleen.
  • Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) - occurs when the bone marrow starts over-producing a pathological variety of B lymphocytes.

Know if you're at risk

Early CCL diagnosis and early response to possible complications will significantly increase your prognosis. Regular blood screening is advisable for those who are particularly at risk for developing CCL.

The disease has a very strong genetic component and tends to affect primarily Eastern European and Jewish males, especially if they already have a family member suffering from CCL.

However, in recent years, suggestive evidence has found that environmental factors, like exposure to Agent Orange or glyphosate-based herbicides, can significantly contribute to developing all forms of NHL.

Consequently, Vietnam veterans, farmworkers, garden center employees, nursery employees, landscapers, groundskeepers, and professional gardeners are more likely to experience this illness than the general population.

If occupational exposure was a factor, there are other options for compensation

Many people developed NHL as a result of not knowing the dangers they were exposed to, and many were awarded compensatory damages for their injuries.

If you have reasons to believe that glyphosate exposure caused your cancer, don't hesitate to contact Atraxia Law today, and our experienced and knowledgeable team of experts will do their best to see if you can recover adequate compensation.