Symptoms of leukemia develop as the white blood cells stop functioning normally. With acute leukemia, serious infections or easy bleeding or bruising usually prompt a patient to see his or her doctor. With chronic leukemia, it may take a long time for symptoms to occur. When they do, they may be mild and mimic symptoms of other disorders, with fatigue the most likely symptom or complaint.
When white blood cells are no longer able to help fight bacteria, viruses, and other germs, infections occur more often than normal. Common symptoms of leukemia-related infections include: Fever, chillsFlu-like symptomsMinor cuts that heal slowly and the area around the cut may become red and swollenExcessive reactions to insect bites
If the number of red blood cells drops and anemia occurs, fewer cells are available to carry oxygen throughout the body. Symptoms include: Weakness and fatiguePale skinHeadache
If there are not enough platelets, the blood will not clot properly. Symptoms include:
Bleeding or bruising easilyNosebleedsBleeding gumsTiny red spots under the skin
Additional symptoms may develop as leukemia cells move through the body and invade the organs. These include: Swollen, tender lymph nodes, liver, or spleenPuffy gumsRashWeight lossBone or joint painDifficulty breathingSwelling of the testicles
HeadachesNauseaLoss of muscle controlSeizuresSymptoms of a stroke
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Conn's Current Therapy 2001
. 53rd ed. W.B. Saunders Company; 2001.
Textbook of Primary Care Medicine
. 3rd ed. Mosby, Inc.; 2001.
Last reviewed December 2014 by Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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