Warning Signs of Leukemia

Warning signs of leukemia may differ from person to person. Some people may exhibit all the warning signs, and some may only exhibit one or two. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells and bone marrow. The cancer causes blood cells to become irregular, which causes problems throughout the body.

Early Warning Signs
Warning signs of leukemia include fever and chills and may often feel like the flu. Some people exhibit weakness and fatigue, frequent and recurring infections and swollen lymph nodes, a swollen liver or a swollen spleen. Common symptoms also include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Little red spots under the skin
  • Bleeding easily
  • Bruising easily
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Night sweats
  • Sweating during the day, which is not as common as night sweats
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Anemia

Because these symptoms mimic other conditions that are less serious than leukemia, your doctor should test you for other conditions as well leukemia. When you get tested, you will be asked to provide a complete medical history. You will also undergo a complete physical exam and have blood tests taken. You should also have x-rays, an ultrasound or a CT scan to rule out any other condition or to rule out the leukemia itself. A bone marrow biopsy, surgical lymph biopsy or a lumbar puncture may be required to solidify your doctor's suspicions of leukemia.

Treating Leukemia
Treatment should be started as soon as possible in order to give your body the best chance of fighting the disease into remission. Treatment depends on the type of leukemia and the person receiving treatment. Treatments may be one or a combination of one or more of the following:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Bone marrow transplants
  • Stem cell transplants
  • Splenectomy
  • Interferon therapy

Other conditions that might determine the type of treatment include the patient's age, the white blood cell count and whether the patient previously had cancer. Leukemia treatments and the disease itself can suppress the patient's immune system, so additional treatments may be needed to boost immune response or to treat any other infections that arise.

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