Leukemia: What are the symptoms? | Norton Cancer Institute

Leukemia: What are the symptoms? | Norton Cancer Institute


In general, symptoms of leukemia are ones that have to do with not having enough normal blood cells and if you don’t have
enough normal white cells you may present to your doctor with infections
for example so chronic unexplained serious infections, fevers, chills. Then
also because of the platelets can be affected a lot of times patients will
present with bleeding or easy bruising. We sometimes see what we call petechiae, which is just a medical word for small red dot under the skin. We frequently will
see that at least initially in the lower part of your body, say below your knees,
ankles and feet. As the disease gets worse you may see those dots elsewhere
but those petechiae again, small red dot under the skin, that is a symptom
or sign of having low platelets which can be a symptom of leukemia, and then
anemia, feeling bad, mallays, not sleeping well, sleeping too much. I mean, those are
some of the things that we see with leukemia. Those are the acute leukemias and the
chronic leukemias sometimes they’re found in a routine blood test. So, some
chronic leukemias don’t have a lot of symptoms initially. Patients with
chronic leukemia may be discovered in the emergency room when they’re there
for another problem or they may be discovered after a motor vehicle accident where you see something and say, hey you’ve got too many white blood
cells or sometimes people will just go to their primary care doctor and over a
period of time they will say you know, Mrs. Jones, last year your white blood
cell count was a little on the high side, now it’s a little higher and we need to look
into it, even where they really don’t have a lot of symptoms. One of the scary things
about this disease is how quickly it can come on you and that’s a hallmark of the
acute form of leukemia. You can be very well, maybe a little fatigued, but for the
most part feeling yourself and then three weeks later you can have
difficulty with bleeding gums, you bump yourself on the kitchen counter
and you get a huge bruise instead of a little one. You have
these petechiae, these red dots on your legs, maybe blood in your urine and all
that comes on real quick and it’s just because of the rather rapid way that
acute leukemia can compromise your production of normal blood cells.