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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.

Recommended Related to Leukemia & Lymphoma

Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a rare cancer that affects blood cells and bone marrow. That’s the soft part inside the bone where blood cells are made. Treatment may help you go into remission. For most people, that doesn't mean the cancer is completely gone, but it does mean that it’s less active than before. Remission can last for many years. CML usually starts in middle age or later. Its symptoms tend to come on gradually. Many of them, like being tired, losing weight without trying,...

Read the Chronic Myeloid Leukemia article > >

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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