Early Symptoms of Leukemia

Symptoms of Leukemia Can Vary and Also Mimic Other Common Illnesses

Dr. Alan Feiner leukemia oncologist

Like most previous types of cancer, you can diagnose and start treatment for leukemia tends to be more successful. however, the first symptoms of leukemia can vary depending on the type of leukemia and are often confused with other common diseases. To help raise awareness of symptoms that need to be cautious, The Rocky Mountain Cancer Center (RMCC)has details of symptoms according to the type of leukemia.

“The initial symptoms of leukemia are very broad and very similar to those of other diseases and illnesses,” says Dr. Alan Fenner says. “For this reason, seek medical attention if you have any concerns.”:

Early Symptoms of Leukemia

petechiae red dots under skin

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Headaches
  • Fever, chills
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Petechiae (small red spots under the skin)

There are also some common Leukemia Symptoms that are less common. “Less common symptoms of leukemia include vomiting, pain in the arms, legs, or lower back, thin skin, swelling of the gums or lymph nodes, and an enlarged spleen or liver,” says Dr.Feiner said.

The fast-growing form of leukemia is called “acute” and the symptoms are usually more pronounced and distinct. Due to the speed of progression of this leukemia, patients who have any of the following symptoms should not delay seeking treatment:

Symptoms of Acute Leukemias (Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia and Acute Myeloid Leukemia)

  • Bruising easily and/or eaeasilyleeding
  • Blood clotting issues, such as frequent or severe nosebleeds and bleeding gums
  • Anemia
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Recurring or chronic infections, often with fever
  • Joint and bone pain

Many of these early leukemia symptoms are the result of a shortage of normal blood cells, which can, fortunately, be identified fairly easily with a blood test.

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Symptoms of Chronic Leukemias

technician examines blood sample

Acute leukemia differs from the chronic form of the disease in that it progresses slowly. Therefore, the symptoms of acute leukemia usually appear less pronounced and less suddenly. Acute leukemia includes acute lymphocytic leukemia, suture cell leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia. It’s not unusual that you don’t have any symptoms. However, this type of leukemia is usually detected by routine blood tests because it causes a slight increase in the number of white blood cells or, in the case of hair cell leukemia, a slight decrease in the number of red and white blood cells and platelets. In addition, cutaneous leukemia can cause severe skin itching.

Chronic myeloid leukemia is a form of chronic leukemia that affects older people more often than young people or children. The symptoms of chronic myeloid leukemia are:

  • Tiredness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Enlarged spleen and/or lymph nodes
  • Recurring or chronic infections in areas such as the skin, lungs, or kidneys

At What Point Should You Seek Medical Attention?

“Not all people with some or all of these symptoms have leukemia, so there is no need to assume the worst,” says Dr. Fenner. “But that doesn’t mean you should ignore it.”

While the initial symptoms of leukemia can mimic many other conditions, most of which are relatively harmless, those who suffer from it should pay attention to how long the symptoms last until they improve. Symptoms that do not improve or continue to reappear within two weeks, even if they improve during a flare-up, are worth discussing with your family doctor.


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