Signs and Symptoms
Acute leukemia is often diagnosed because the affected person feels ill. The person may have symptoms related to not having enough normal blood cells, such as:
- Weakness, shortness of breath and anemia due to a lack of red blood cells
- Bleeding and bruising due to a lack of platelets
- Fever and infections due to a lack of normal infection-fighting WBCs
Those with acute leukemia may also have signs and symptoms related to accumulations of immature white blood cells, such as: bone and joint pain; enlarged lymph nodes, spleen, liver, kidneys, and testicles; and headaches, vomiting, confusion, and seizures (when excess cells collect in the brain or central nervous system). They may also experience weight loss and night sweats.
Chronic leukemias often progress slowly and may be found by the doctor during a routine check-up before any symptoms are noticed, or they may cause milder forms of the same symptoms noticed with acute leukemia. Some cases may be monitored for years before they require treatment, while others may be more aggressive. The abnormal cell that is producing the chronic leukemia may also become unstable. Further changes in the cell may cause a blast crisis, leading to the production of only immature cells and a rapidly worsening condition.