5 Signs Of Leukemia
Many of the symptoms of leukemia are caused by the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow.
This overproduction reduces bone marrow's ability to produce healthy red and white blood cells and platelets.
The deficit of red and white blood cells and platelets can result in the following:
- A lack of healthy red blood cells results in anemia, causing weakness, fatigue, and pale skin.
- A lack of healthy white blood cells raises the likelihood of having frequent or recurrent infections.
- A lack of healthy platelets, which normally help with blood clotting, results in easy bruising and bleeding.
The leukemia cells themselves can also cause symptoms by clogging up blood vessels, accumulating in various organs, and spreading to the skin, gums, brain, or spinal cord.
Symptoms of acute leukemias — which include acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid (or myelogenous) leukemia — tend to come on suddenly, within days or weeks.
They are sometimes initially mistaken for the flu or another common illness, but unlike flu symptoms, leukemia symptoms don't go away.
Common signs and symptoms of acute leukemia include:
- Easy bruising and/or bleeding
- Fatigue and weakness
- Frequent infections
- Frequent or severe nosebleeds
- Loss of weight and/or appetite
- Night sweats
- Pain in the bones or joints
- Swollen lymph nodes in or near the neck, underarms, abdomen, or groin
- Tiny red spots in the skin
Other possible symptoms include:
- An enlarged, painless testicle (for men)
- Bleeding from the gums
- Blurred vision
- Coughing and shortness of breath
- Difficulty maintaining balance
- Feeling cold
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Seizures and vomiting
- Shortness of breath
In contrast to acute leukemias, symptoms of chronic leukemias — which include chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid (or myelogenous) leukemia — come on more slowly.
In fact, it's possible to live with chronic leukemia for months or years without being aware of it.
Many people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia are diagnosed not because of symptoms but because of an elevated white blood cell count discovered during routine testing.
Video: Leukaemia: signs, symptoms & outlook
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