Leukemia can produce a variety of symptoms, although they are not often apparent in the earliest stages of the disease. The most common signs – fatigue, pale skin, weight loss and night sweats – are often attributed to other, less serious conditions, such as stress or the flu. These symptoms tend to become more frequent or severe with time. This is especially common with acute myeloid and acute lymphocytic leukemias, which tend to be faster-growing and more symptomatic than chronic leukemias.
Additionally, there are other, lesser-known leukemia symptoms that can accompany the more common warning signs. These can include:
- Easy bruising or bleeding due to a shortage of platelets, which are responsible for helping the blood clot
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, which is a result of low red blood cell counts
- Pain in the upper left side of the stomach due to an accumulation of cancer cells in the liver and/or spleen
What to do if you’re experiencing the symptoms of leukemia
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have cancer. However, an experienced physician can recommend any necessary diagnostic tests and, if appropriate, refer you to an oncologist for a more detailed assessment. Usually, this step will be taken if your symptoms are very severe or persistent. An oncologist who specializes in diagnosing and treating leukemia can order various blood tests and imaging scans to help determine if cancer might be present.
Leukemia diagnosis and treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Malignant Hematology Program is home to several oncologists who exclusively diagnose and treat blood and bone marrow cancers. Our team treats all types of leukemia and offers a full range of diagnostic technologies under one roof.
“Symptoms of leukemias are frequently non-specific and overlap with other illnesses; therefore, it is important to seek care early to avoid delay in diagnosis.,” says Onyee Chan, MD, Malignant Hematology
If you’d like to discuss your leukemia symptoms with one of Moffitt’s experienced oncologists, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online. No referral is required to request an appointment.