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Home Cancer Leukemia Leukemia Signs and Symptoms

Leukemia Signs and Symptoms

The symptoms which are seen most often in leukemia and related diseases are:
  1. Excessive tiredness.
  2. Breathlessness.
  3. Paleness.
  4. Pain in bones and joints.
  5. Bleeding.
  6. Excessive bruising.
  7. Persistent infections.
  8. Abdominal discomfort.
  9. Enlarged lymph glands.
  10. Persistent fevers.
  11. Night sweats.
  12. Pathological fractures.
Patients may show any combination of symptoms. Some may be more obvious than others. Initial symptoms may appear to be nothing worse than a bout of flu. Anyone who develops persistent symptoms should see their doctor promptly.

Paleness, tiredness, weakness and breathlessness are caused by anemia (too few red cells) which reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. Bone pain may be caused by abnormal blood cell production in the marrow or by damage to the bone in Myeloma. The bone damage in Myeloma may lead to pathological fractures (broken bones resulting from very slight injuries).

Bruising and/or bleeding problems result from a low platelet count. Infections are a problem despite the apparently high numbers of white cells because there are few normal white cells.

Abdominal discomfort may be a problem in those conditions where there is swelling of the spleen, the liver or both. Enlarged lymph nodes are a particular feature of lymphoma but they may also be present in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. Persistent fevers may occur even in the absence of infection. This is probably a result of a general speeding up of body metabolism because of the high rate of tumor cell production. This may also explain the night sweats which are typically a feature of lymphoma and some forms of leukemia.


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