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10 Common Symptoms of Leukemia


Leukemia is cancer of the blood. Cancerous blood-forming tissues, such as bone marrow, hinder your body's ability to fight off infection. There are several different types of leukemia.

Those with slow-growing forms of leukemia do not initially present any symptoms. However, fast-growing forms of leukemia can cause various symptoms. Treatment varies and includes monitoring, chemotherapy, radiation, and stem-cell transplant.

Symptom 1: Swollen Lymph Nodes

Do your lymph nodes feel swollen? When leukemia has spread, you may have swollen lymph nodes in your neck, armpits, and groin. You can probably recognize them as bumps beneath your skin.

Swollen lymph nodes are also possible in your chest and abdomen, but can only be detected via imaging tests.

Symptom 2: Bruising

Do you bruise easily? And not due to trauma or clumsiness? Unexplained bruising is a symptom of leukemia.

Bruising usually occurs on your arms and legs and caused by a low platelet count or clotting issues.

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Symptom 3: Fatigue

Do you feel tired all the time No matter how much sleep you get? Fatigue is due to your deficiency in red blood cells.

According to everyday Health, “Chronic lymphocytic leukemia, or CLL, can cause persistent fatigue that leaves you physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted — so much so that it may interfere with your daily activities. It tends to last longer than the tiredness you felt before the cancer diagnosis, and isn't relieved by rest.”

Symptom 4: Tiny, Red Spots

Do you have tiny, red spot on your skin? These spots are called petechiae.

They are caused by your broken blood vessels, also known as capillaries, under your skin. Usually, disc-shaped cells in your blood, called platelets, assist your blood in clotting. However, those with leukemia, do not have enough platelets to shut off broken blood vessels.

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Symptom 5: Weight Loss/Loss of Appetite

Have you lost a lot of weight without even trying? Do you not want to eat anything? With leukemia, you may eat less than usual and les often. You may not feel hungry at all. You may feel full, just after a few bites. 

A loss of appetite and the weight loss that often goes along with that is a side effect of cancer or the treatments involved with that diagnosis.

Symptom 6: Frequent Infections

If chemotherapy is part of your treatment plan for leukemia, you may get infections as a result. This is because chemotherapy damages your white blood cells, which are used to fight off infections.

According to MedBroadcast, “These cells can't function as well as normal white blood cells, so people with acute leukemia are at a higher risk of infection. Because the body is so busy producing ‘blasts,’ it can't make as many red blood cells or platelets, which can cause anemia and bleeding disorders.”

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Symptom 7: Bleed Easily

Usually, platelets in your blood stop bleeding. However, leukemia causes a decreased number of platelets.

As a result, leukemia patients experience bleeding and bruising. They may bleed from their mouth and gums or from their nose. Also, they could see blood in their stool or urine.

Symptom 8: Pain

When your bone marrow becomes overwhelmed with cancer cells, sometimes generating a mass that impacts your nerves to cause pain in your bone and joints, as well as your back, neck, and other areas.

Exercise, medications, and other factors can help manage your pain.

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Symptom 9: Weakness

Your red blood cells take oxygen around your body. When you have fewer red blood cells due to leukemia, you may feel weak.

On MedicineNet, one caregiver stated: “Symptoms experienced is weakness of joint not able to stand without a support and constant low blood fever and pains that has even affected the teeth.”

Symptom 10: Shortness of Breath

Is it hard to catch your breath? Are you unable to take in a full breath?

According to everyday Health, “This is because patients have less energy when the CLL-affected cells begin to outnumber healthy red blood cells. Feel shortness of breath during normal activities. This may also be because of a lower red blood cell count; these are the cells that carry oxygen.”

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