leukemia symptoms

Leukemia is cancer of the bone marrow, which is where blood cells are made. This cancer can affect different types of blood cells?white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen from the lungs to the body, and platelets that clot the blood. As the cancerous blood cells multiply, they crowd out healthy blood cells in bone marrow, resulting in fewer healthy cells.

Leukemia symptoms depend on what type of leukemia you have, and whether it is acute or chronic. Types of leukemia include acute lymphoblastic, acute myeloid, chronic lymphocytic, chronic myeloid, and chronic myelomonocytic. Acute leukemia grows quickly. Chronic leukemia grows more slowly.

Acute leukemia symptoms may resemble those of the flu, including achy joints, fever, fatigue, and swollen glands. As the disease progresses, symptoms such as easy bruising or bleeding, clotting problems, and tiny red spots on the skin (petechiae) can develop.

Chronic leukemia often doesn?t cause symptoms early on. People may be diagnosed when a blood test that is done for another reason detects a high white blood cell count. Later in the disease, chronic leukemia symptoms include fatigue, fever, frequent infections, sweating, night sweats, swollen lymph glands, loss of appetite, unplanned weight loss, and easy bruising and bleeding.

If you?ve noticed any of these leukemia symptoms, make an appointment with your doctor. The doctor can order blood tests to measure levels of white blood cells and platelets. Any abnormal results will be followed up with a bone marrow biopsy, in which a long thin needle is inserted into your hipbone to remove a bone marrow sample. That sample is then examined under a microscope to determine what type of leukemia you have, and what form of treatment will work best against it. Treatments for leukemia include chemotherapy, radiation, biological drugs, and a stem cell transplant.

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