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Understanding Leukemia -- Symptoms

What Are the Symptoms of Leukemia?

Many types of leukemia produce no obvious symptoms in the early stages. Eventually, symptoms may include any of the following:

  • Anemia and related symptoms, such as fatigue, pallor, and a general feeling of illness.
  • A tendency to bruise or bleed easily, including bleeding from the gums or nose, or blood in the stool or urine.
  • Susceptibility to infections such as sore throat or bronchial pneumonia, which may be accompanied by headache, low-grade fever, mouth sores, or skin rash.
  • Swollen lymph nodes, typically in the throat, armpits, or groin.
  • Loss of appetite and weight.
  • Discomfort under the left lower ribs (caused by a swollen spleen).
  • Very high white blood cell counts may result in visual problems due to retinal hemorrhage, ringing of the ears (tinnitus), mental status changes, prolonged erection (priapism), and stroke.

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The diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma can only be made by a tissue biopsy -- cutting a tissue sample for examination. If you have an enlarged, painless lymph node that your doctor suspects may be due to Hodgkin lymphoma, tissue will be taken for biopsy or the entire node will be removed. The diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma is sometimes confirmed by the presence of a type of cell called a Reed-Sternberg cell. If a biopsy reveals that you do have Hodgkin lymphoma, you may need additional tests to determine...

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Call Your Doctor About Leukemia If:

  • You experience any of the symptoms listed in the description section and cannot readily explain their occurrence. Your blood cell count should be tested.
  • You experience unexplained bleeding, high fever, or a seizure. You may need emergency treatment for acute leukemia.
  • You are in remission from leukemia and notice signs of recurrence, such as infection or easy bleeding. You should have a follow-up exam.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on March 15, 2015

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