7 Signs of Leukemia (w/ Online Symptom Checker)

Updated in May 2023

Signs of leukemia include excessive fatigue, weakness, weight loss for no apparent cause and swollen lymph nodes in the neck and groin. Leukemia symptoms may vary slightly, however, depending on the phase of cancer, the types of cells affected, and the person’s age. 

Generally, some of the signs of leukemia can be confused for the symptoms of a cold or flu, especially if they appear suddenly. It is also common for people with leukemia to experience infections frequently and to take long to recover from them. This occurs due to abnormalities in the immune system caused by the cancer. 

Treatment for leukemia depends on the patient’s age, phase of cancer and the type of leukemia present. Treatment should be started as quickly as possible to increase the chances of a cure. 

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Foto de manchas roxas suspeitas de leucemia

Main symptoms

The most common symptoms of leukemia are: 

  1. Excessive fatigue
  2. Swollen lymph nodes on the neck, armpits or groin
  3. Fever over 100.4ºF (or 38º C)
  4. Red or purple pinpoints or rashes 
  5. Bone and joint pain 
  6. Increased occurrence of infections, especially UTIs 
  7. Weight loss for no apparent reason 

In addition, some patients may report headaches, nausea, vomiting, double vision and disorientation, which can happen when the central nervous system becomes compromised. 

Symptom checker

To assess your risk for leukemia, report your symptoms below: 

  1. 1. Fever over (100.4ºF) or 38º C
  2. 2. Bone or joint pain
  3. 3. Purple spots or red dots on the skin
  4. 4. Frequent tiredness for no apparent reason
  5. 5. Neck, armpit or groin tongue
  6. 6. Weight loss for no apparent reason
  7. 7. Frequent infections such as candidiasis or urinary tract infection

Note that this symptom checker is just an informative tool and does not provide a diagnosis or substitute a consult with your family doctor or a hematologist. 

Symptoms of childhood leukemia

Symptoms in children can emerge at any phase. The baby or child may frequently be tired and unmotivated to crawl or walk. They may have other symptoms, like bruises, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, loss of appetite, recurrent infections, fever, night sweats, difficulty breathing, headache, dizziness and pale skin. 

Although it can be scary for parents, childhood leukemia has an excellent cure rate when treatment is effective. You should consult the child’s pediatrician immediately if you notice changes to your child‘s behavior. 

Confirming a diagnosis 

It is important for leukemia to be diagnosed as early as possible to prevent disease progression and to improve the patient’s quality of life. Patients with signs or symptoms that are suggestive of leukemia should undergo various testing.

The main diagnostic test for leukemia is the complete blood count (CBC), which allows for evaluation of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets in the blood. This test can can also look for changes in white blood cells, which can provide insight into bone marrow functioning. 

In addition to a CBC, the doctor can also order biochemistry blood tests and look at clotting factors. A diagnosis is usually confirmed through a bone marrow biopsy, in which a specimen is collected and sent to the lab for analysis. 

Treatment options

Treatment for leukemia is most effective when the cancer is in its early phases. It can vary depending on the type of leukemia diagnosed. Acute leukemias are usually treated with chemotherapy, while chronic leukemia may require specific medications. 

Regardless of the type of leukemia, depending on the stage and severity of cancer, the doctor can prescribe immunotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.