Leukemia Health (cont.)

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Leukemia Symptoms

Symptoms usually develop fairly quickly in acute leukemias. Most cases of acute leukemia are diagnosed when the person visits his or her healthcare professional after becoming ill. Symptoms develop gradually in chronic leukemias and are generally not as severe as in acute leukemias. About 20% of people with chronic leukemia do not have symptoms at the time their disease is diagnosed.

Some symptoms of leukemia are due to deficiencies of normal blood cells. Others are due to collections of leukemia cells in tissues and organs. Leukemia cells can collect in many different parts of the body, such as the testicles, brain, lymph nodes, liver, spleen, digestive tract, kidneys, lungs, eyes, and skin -- in effect, virtually every tissue site.

The following symptoms of leukemia are common to all types:

  • Unexplained fevers
  • Frequent infections
  • Night sweats
  • Fatigue (feeling tired or washed out)
  • Weight loss
  • Easy bleeding or bruising

Collection of leukemia cells in certain parts of the body may cause the following symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Balance problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Painful swellings in the neck, under the arms, or in the groin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Abdominal pain and/or swelling
  • Testicular pain and/or swelling
  • Pain in the bones or joints
  • Weakness or loss of muscle control
  • Seizures

It is important to emphasize that the symptoms of leukemia are nonspecific. This means that they are not unique to leukemia but are common to a number of diseases and conditions. Only a medical professional is able to distinguish leukemia from the other conditions that cause similar symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/8/2014

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