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Leukemia symptoms

Many people often do not experience symptoms in the early stages of certain types of leukemia, or the symptoms develop slowly. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) progress much faster and symptoms may worsen more quickly than with the chronic leukemias (CML and CLL).

Some leukemia symptoms, like night sweats, fever, fatigue and achiness, often resemble flu-like symptoms. If you have the flu, symptoms will likely subside as you get better. Make an appointment to see your doctor if the symptoms persist longer than expected.

cancer symptoms

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia symptoms

CLL is a slow-growing disease and many signs of CLL are vague. The symptoms of CLL tend to develop over time. For many people, CLL symptoms may at first seem to be some kind of non-specific change in overall health. There may be an increased sense of fatigue or weakness. Some people may experience flu-like symptoms, like night sweats or enlarged lymph nodes. Many people are diagnosed with CLL because of a blood test for an unrelated condition.

Some of the conditions that may arise as CLL slowly develops and spreads may include:

  • Anemia: Red blood transports oxygen throughout the body. Low levels of red blood cells may reduce the blood’s overall oxygen carrying capacity. This condition can be evaluated by a complete blood count (CBC) test. Symptoms of anemia may include weakness, fatigue, lack of energy and shortness of breath.
  • Leukopenia: Lymphocytic leukemias affect the white blood cells responsible for producing antibodies and warding off disease. A decrease in the functional lymphocytes may diminish the body's immune system. Symptoms of leukopenia may include reduced immunity, more frequent infections and fevers.
  • Thrombocytopenia: Blood platelets are the particles in the blood that aid with clotting. A CBC test may reveal a low blood platelet count in patients who have CLL. Symptoms of thrombocytopenia may include easy bruising, bleeding or nose bleeds, and bleeding gums.
  • Swollen lymph nodes: In some cases, the leukemia may spread to the lymph nodes. The clusters of lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin may become noticeably swollen from the accumulation of excessive amounts of cancerous lymphocytes.
  • Enlarged liver or spleen: The excess lymphocytes may build up in the liver or spleen. An enlarged liver or spleen may cause a feeling of fullness after eating a small meal, loss of appetite or swelling in the abdomen.

Understanding cancer symptoms

These symptoms may be attributed to a number of conditions other than cancer. If you notice any cancer signs or symptoms, it's important to visit your doctor for an accurate diagnosis.

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