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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

Leukemia symptoms

Some general symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Fever, chills
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Loss of appetite, weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent infections
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Petechiae (small red spots under the skin)

Other potential symptoms of leukemia

Because some conditions coincide with the presence of the disease, the following may be signs of leukemia:

  • Anemia: A low red blood cell count. Red blood cells carry oxygen around the body. This condition may contribute to weakness, fatigue or shortness of breath.
  • Leukopenia: A low white blood cell count. A decrease in the production of functional leukocytes (white blood cells) weakens the body's immune defense, which can make you more prone to infections.
  • Thrombocytopenia: A low blood platelet count. Platelets are the blood cells responsible for blood clotting. A shortage of bloods platelets may lead to easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Swollen lymph nodes: In some cases, the signs of leukemia may include noticeable swelling of the neck, armpit or groin. This occurs when leukemia has spread to the lymph nodes.
  • Enlarged liver or spleen: The build-up of abnormal blood cells in the liver or spleen may cause a feeling of fullness (loss of appetite) or swelling in the upper left side of the abdomen.

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and leukemia

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) is a condition in which the bone marrow does not produce enough normal blood cells for the body. Some cases of MDS may, over time, progress to leukemia (generally AML).

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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