While there are many different types of leukemia, the symptoms among these types can be similar.
Acute forms of leukemia are more aggressive, so people with one of these types of the disease are more likely to develop symptoms. Chronic leukemia patients may have no symptoms at all when they are diagnosed.
Many leukemia symptoms are due to a lack of properly functioning blood cells to carry oxygen throughout the body, fight infection and stop bleeding. Some symptoms can also be caused by low levels of hemoglobin, a protein that helps move oxygen throughout the body.
Leukemia symptoms include:
- Weakness, tiredness and fatigue. This can be caused by the leukemia itself or by the low levels of hemoglobin seen in many leukemia patients.
- Fever and frequent infections due to low counts of healthy white blood cells.
- Excessive sweating or night sweats.
- Easy bleeding and bruising, including bleeding of the gums due to low platelet levels.
- Recurrent nose bleeds
- Petechiae, a rash-like collection of pinpoint spots on the skin caused by bleeding into the skin. This is also due to low levels of platelets.
- Shortness of breath. This can be caused by low hemoglobin levels and lung infections.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarm, stomach or groin
- Loss of appetite or a full feeling after eating very little food due to enlargement of the spleen.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Bone and joint pain.
- For female patients, longer than normal or heavier than normal menstruation.
Some cases of leukemia can be passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic counseling may be right for you. Learn more about the risk to you and your family on our genetic testing page.
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