Leukemia, also known as cancer of the blood, forms in the areas of the body that form the blood cells. The defining characteristic of Leukemia is a substantial increase in the number of white blood cells.
Symptoms of Leukemia
Leukemia symptoms will vary depending on the specific type of leukemia. There are four types:
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia
- Acute Lymphotic Leukemia
- Chronic Lymphotic Leukemia
Another factor that determines the symptoms of leukemia is the age of the person and the cause of the disease.
There are some common leukemia symptoms that are present with any of the types. These include experiencing chills, a fever, feeling cold, loss of appetite, frequent infections, pain in the abdomen, pain in the joints, swollen lymph nodes, and an overall feeling of malaise. However, not all patients will experience these symptoms.
Early Symptoms of Leukemia
The initial signs of leukemia are generally vague due to the fact that it can appear to simply be a flue. They may feel cold, fatigued, week, and have a fever. A more definite indicator can be swollen lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. There may also be small red spots underneath the skin. Also, a cut or bruise that would normally be minor will be excessively large or produce a lot of blood. The loss of red blood cells often results in anemia. While the reasons are unknown, excessive sweating is often an early symptom of leukemia.
Childhood Leukemia Symptoms
When children are affected with leukemia, they become far more susceptible to infection than healthy children and even adults with leukemia. In these cases, the antibiotics prescribed for the infection will simply not work because the leukemia is immune to the medication. This is one of the earliest and most noticeable signs of leukemia in children.
A child with leukemia is also likely to vomit without apparent cause, experience headaches, and develop uncontrollable skin rashes. They may also exhibit an enlargement in their abdominal area because the disease causes distention in the liver and spleen.
Other symptoms of leukemia in children are similar to the typical signs. Bruises or cuts that would be minor in a healthy child do not stop bleeding for long periods of time. The child may experience pain in the joints because the leukemia cells will deposit themselves on the surface of the bone. They will also have a loss of appetite that will lead to weight loss.
Adult Leukemia Symptoms
The symptoms of leukemia in adults are similar to the symptoms experienced by children. This includes the flu-like fever, chills, and fatigue. However there are a few difference that deserve to be noted. Adults may also experience blurred vision and trouble balancing because it is more likely to affect the brain in adults than it does in children. Adults may experience a shortness of breath or frequent and lengthy coughing fits that often feel like they are suffocating. The joint pain is also more severe in children than it is in the adults.
The symptoms of leukemia are noticed in the areas of the body where the cells are deposited. Because they can be deposited in the brain, confusion and an inability to balance may be the characteristic signs. If the leukemia is brought on by chain smoking or exposure to smoke, it may settle in the lungs. Other parts of the body that may be affected are the digestive tract, heart, kidneys, lungs, or testes.
Common Symptoms of Acute Leukemia or Chronic Leukemia
Lymph nodes may become swollen because this is where the blood cleanses itself. The excess leukemic cells are drained and deposited here. They are most commonly in the neck or armpit, and can be painful. Swelling and inflammation will result and make them prone to further infections and lymphitis.
Frequent infections and excessive bleeding are common symptoms of leukemia. This is due to the increase in the number of white blood cells. White blood cells are more immature than red blood cells and do not have the capability to attack bacteria and viral infections that make their way into the body. As these white blood cells accumulate in the bone marrow, less bone marrow cells are able to form and create blood platelets. The result is excessive bleeding to the inability to clot without these platelets. Also, patients with leukemia may notice purple patches of blood clots underneath the skin.
Another leukemia symptom is shortness of breath. When this becomes serious enough, it can develop into dyspnea. The leukemia cells may accumulate in the chest resulting in pain and difficulty breathing. If this begins to happen, the patient should seek immediate medical help as it can result in fainting or suffocation.
Leukemia often leads to anemia. The reduction of red blood cells and platelets reduces the ability of the blood to carry oxygen. This can lead to an additional number of symptoms when the body is not receiving the necessary amount of oxygen to function normally.
Additional Leukemia Symptoms
Other leukemia symptoms are more straight forward and can be understood without elaboration.
- Night Sweats
- Weak or tired feeling
- Bleeding gums
- Weight loss
- Pain in the joints and bones
- Blurred vision
- Trouble balancing
- Lack of coordination
- Loss of muscle control
Many of the symptoms of leukemia are common for other sorts of infections and disorders. Only a doctor is able to diagnose whether the patient has leukemia or something else. However, the positive aspect is that leukemia can be diagnosed with a simple blood test and action can be taken almost instantly.
Differences Between Types
The main difference between acute leukemia and chronic leukemia is that the leukemia symptoms do not appear in the chronic type until much later. Usually, the disease is diagnosed and the symptoms appear in the later stages. With acute leukemia, the symptoms are noticed almost immediately and easily before the official diagnosis. If the symptoms appear at an early stage of the cancer, it is classified as acute leukemia. If the symptoms appear after the diagnosis and at a later stage after the onset cancer, it is classified as chronic leukemia.
While leukemia is a disease, there is also a condition called a leukemia. It is not detectable in a normal blood test. It occurs within the bone marrow and does not have noticeable leukemia symptoms until a much later stage.
Acute Leukemia Symptoms
The symptoms of acute leukemia are caused by the low levels of blood cells. The bone marrow will be crowded by the leukemia cells and prevents it from carrying out its normal functions. Acute leukemia is capable of spreading rapidly to the unformed or immature blood cells. This is why the leukemia symptoms of the acute type are seen so early. Almost as soon as the leukemia begins infiltrating the bone marrow, the patient will feel fatigue, abdominal pain, pain in the joints, and weakness. They will also experience abnormal bleeding and excessive bruising almost instantly.
Chronic Leukemia Symptoms
Unlike acute leukemia, chronic leukemia symptoms develop more slowly. The symptoms will often appear to be that of other less severe medical disorders or illnesses. When the signs do become more prevalent, they will mimic those of acute leukemia. One symptom that is more unique to chronic leukemia is the enlargement of the spleen. This is where the abnormal white blood cells seem to accumulate. The patient will likely feel discomfort in their abdomen and feel full after eating a small amount of food. This is due to the pressure the enlargement of the spleen is placing on other organs.
Chronic leukemia causes other symptoms and problems. Patients may develop leucostatis due to the abnormal amount of white blood cells in the blood. This results in headaches, dizziness, and confusion due to the fact that it settles in the brain. This may also affect the functioning of the heart and lungs. They may also develop hympgammaglobulineamia. The immune systems is slowed down as the level of gamma globulin, a type of antibodies, decreases. The body is less capable of fighting against illness and infection due to this.
Symptoms of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Symptoms of chronic myeloid leukemia are seen at a later stage of the disease. The symptoms are consistent with other types of leukemia. The patient will experience fever, fatigue, night sweats, headaches, shortness of breath, excessive bleeding and bruising, joint pains, and an enlarged spleen. They also appear pale due to the lack of red blood cells that leave them deprived of oxygen.
Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Symptoms
The defining feature of chronic lymphocytic leukemia is associated with the lymphocytes. They lose their normal ability to die and begin accumulating. Most of the time patients show no symptoms when they are diagnosed. The doctor will simply find an increase in the number of white blood cells.
At the early stages, the lymph nodes may be enlarged and there is fullness in the abdomen. These are generally mild, but they may be accompanied by fatigue. When it reaches a more advanced stage, the patient may become anemic and lose their ability to fight off infection.
Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Symptoms
The symptoms of leukemia associated with the chronic myelogenous type are similar to those of the other types of leukemia. The patient may experience fatigue, excessive sweating, fullness in the abdomen due to an enlarged spleen, and fever. As the disease progresses, the blood count will decrease. This will cause the patient to suffer from great pain in the joints and bones and a very high fever. Chronic myelogenous leukemia is also know to have the greatest pain in the abdomen in its later stages.
The symptoms will only occur in the later stages of this type of leukemia. It is not easily diagnosed, and is usually only found if the patient goes to the doctor to have blood work performed for some other type of infection. If the doctor suspects that leukemia is the cause, they will continue to check for symptoms with blood tests.
Feline Leukemia Symptoms
Felines are also known for developing leukemia. The common symptoms associated with cats are decreased stamina, blood in the stool, infertility, and other bleeding disorders. The cat may also drink excessive amounts of water and develop arthritis. Feline leukemia is marked by ulcers, cloudy eyes, neurological abnormalities, weight loss, diarrhea, skin lesions, and jaundice.
The symptoms of leukemia among the different types are vary similar. The few particulars are more severe in certain cases, and can be mistaken for other illnesses or disorders. However, the symptoms of leukemia can lead to other disorders. A doctor needs to conduct the appropriate tests in order to conclude what the problem is and begin the best course of action to take.