Leukemia Symptoms and Signs

white and red blood cells
blood cells

A disease caused by an abnormal increase of the white blood corpuscles (WBC), leukocytes causes the cancer of the bone marrow or the blood. This cancer of blood is called leukemia, which is a part of a wide spectrum of diseases called the hematological neoplasms. A person suffering from Leukemia will have abnormal WBC produced by the bone marrow. These abnormal cells are actually the leukemia cells. These cells do not die soon and inhibit the functioning of normal blood cells.

What are the Symptoms and Signs of Leukemia?

The first signs of leukemia depend on the quantity and the location of leukemia cells in the body. The symptoms also are characterized by the type of leukemia one is suffering from. Those suffering from chronic leukemia will bear no symptoms and the disease will be detected during a routine blood test. Chronic or acute leukemia patients will have the following symptoms as early signs of leukemia:

  • Lymph nodes of the armpits and the neck will be swollen
  • Tendency to have fever and night chills
  • Excessive sweating
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Tendency to get bruised easily, purple  and red patches on skin,
  • Liver or spleen may swell leading to abdominal pain
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Tenderness of bones and pain in them
  • Frequent infections
  • Bleeding of the gums and nose
  • Irregular menstruation cycles in females

Not all patients will suffer from the same symptoms and also these symptoms might be due to some other ailment. The above mentioned signs can very well be attributed as the warning signs of Leukemia and one must consult a doctor as soon as possible.

Childhood Leukemia Symptoms

Children are the most affected from this ailment. At least 1 child in every 2000 children will get affected by leukemia prior to his/her attaining the age of 15 years. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia affects 70-80 % of children followed by acute myeloid leukemia which affects 20% of them. Only 5 percent of children are affected by chronic myeloid leukemia.

One of the basic symptoms of leukemia in children is that they become extremely vulnerable to acquiring infections. If they get a cut or bruise, then the blood will continue to flow for longer than normal periods. They are prone to getting scratches and cuts very easily.

Some of the early signs of leukemia in children are loss of appetite with no apparent reason and abnormal functioning of antibiotics. Due to lack of appetite unexpected weight loss can be seen in them. Since the antibiotics are not functioning properly and the white blood cells are abnormal, so the disease or infection fighting ability of the children is lost.

In a child suffering from leukemia, the leukemia cells tends to get deposited underneath the surface of the bones and interior joints. This leads to the pain he/she experiences in the joints and the bones.

Other leukemia symptoms in children include constant headaches, vomiting, nausea, frenzied fits and abnormal skin reactions. Distention in spleen and liver will cause the enlargement of the abdominal area.

Leukemia Symptoms in Adults

Signs of leukemia in adults are quite similar to those experienced in children and bear the flue like signs of having fever, night sweats, frequent infections and chills.

It can even spread up till the brain and lead to fatigue, tiredness, sickness, vomiting, nausea, blurry vision, headaches, uncontrolled fits and inability to balance oneself.

The spleen and liver gets enlarged due to which there will be pain in abdomen, weight loss due to reduced hunger and pains in joints and bones will be more than what is experienced by children.

Swelling of the lymph nodes of the neck and the armpits will be present and they will be tender. Tendency to get a bruise cut or scratch at the slightest of provocation is highly possible.

Some of the common signs of leukemia in men and women are that of breathlessness, prolonged coughing along with a feeling of getting suffocated.

Feline Leukemia Symptoms

Cats are also prone to getting leukemia due to a retrovirus called the Feline leukemia virus (FeLV).  The transfer of nasal secretions and saliva amongst infected cats can lead to the transfer of FeLV.  If the feline’s immunity is not robust enough to fight the virus then it can prove fatal also.

The symptoms of feline leukemia include;

  • Reduced appetite and loss of body weight
  • Bad or poor condition of skin coat
  • Lymphadenopathy or swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Lesions on skin
  • Hazy eyes
  • Excessive thirst leading to undue urination
  • Diarrhea with presence of blood in stool
  • Fever
  • Tiredness and decreased stamina
  • Bladder and respiratory tract infection
  • Jaundice
  • Anemia
  • Ulcerations at body openings

Acute Leukemia Symptoms

Acute leukemia is the most common form of leukemia affecting children. The crowding of the bone marrow due to rapid increase in immature blood cells prevents them from producing healthy blood cells. Due to these low levels of healthy normal blood cells most of the signs of acute leukemia are caused and are detected at earlier stages only.

Pain in joints, irregular bleeding, abdominal pain, sickness, tiredness, undue vulnerability to getting bruised and alleviated tolerance towards physical activities are common symptoms of acute leukemia.

Chronic Leukemia Symptoms

It is quite common that a person might be suffering from chronic leukemia for years but still will bear no symptoms and will be detected by it only after a routine blood check. The symptoms of chronic leukemia tend to develop slowly as compared to those in the case of acute leukemia.

Constant headaches, tiredness, night sweats, fever and loss of weight are some of the symptoms. There will be a tendency to feel stuffed even upon eating small amount of food and one might thus refrain from eating much leading to loss of weight. The unhealthy white blood cells or leukemia cells tend to get accumulated leading to splenomegaly or enlargement of spleen. This can cause potential discomfort in the abdominal region.

The headaches accompanied by dizziness, mental confusion and irritability are due to leucostatis which is the abnormal rise in white blood cell count.

Bruising and bleeding from cuts or scratches is quite prominent due to inadequate quantity of platelets which are responsible for the clotting of blood.

The immune system will be weakened due to hypo-gamma-globulinemia which is the decrease of gamma globulin antibodies.

Signs of chronic myeloid leukemia

  • Increased amount of white blood cells in bone marrow and blood
  • Fever accompanied with night sweats
  • Insufficiency of blood
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Prone to easy bruising and infections
  • Aching joints and bones
  • Paling of the skin color
  • Enlarged spleen

Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Symptoms

It occurs due to the accumulation of lymphocytes as they lose their ability to die. At the time of diagnosis mostly people will just bear a symptom of increased number of white blood cells. There will be a fullness of abdomen due to an enlarged spleen.

Anemia will be caused in the advanced stages of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Production of antibodies will be less and the patient will be prone to infections.

Chronic Myelogenous (myeloid) Leukemia Symptoms

The early symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia are fever, excessive perspiration and abdominal discomfort. Later on the blood count will decrease and high fever will be experienced. The pain in abdomen will be extremely painful.

Most of the symptoms of different types of leukemia are quite similar to each other and only differ on accounts of severity. Sometimes they can be mistaken for other illness also which can lead to delay in treatment. It is thus advisable that one goes through proper diagnosis at the hands of a doctor for proper detection of this deadly disease.







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