There are common leukemia symptoms even though there are 4 different main types of the cancer. Leukemia is a cancer of the blood, more specifically of two of the white blood cell types in the blood.
Lymphocytic leukemia affects the lymphocyte white blood cells. Myelocytic leukemia affects myeloid white blood cells of which there are several different types.
Both cancers are classified as either acute or chronic depending on their speed of progression.
Symptoms generally develop relatively slowly with common early symptoms being fatigue, weakness and pale skin (due to anemia).
- excessive fever
- pale color skin
- increased bruising
- increased bleeding
- bone pain
- joint pain
- abdominal bloating
- abdominal pain
- enlarged lymph nodes
- loss of appetite
- weight loss
- shortness of breath
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is the most common cancer in children but can also occur at any age. Acute myelocytic leukemia (AML) is more common in adults but can also occur at any age.
The chronic types of leukemia, chronic leukocytic leukemia (CLL) and chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML), occur most frequently in older adults and rarely is found in young children.
Diagnosis of the leukemia types is typically performed by simple blood testing and bone marrow biopsy.
Leukemias are treatable and increasingly curable depending on the type and stage. However, greater focus must sometimes be given to simply improving the remaining quality of life of the individual rather than moderately prolonging life. Pain care and symptom alleviation measures are key.
Treatment is typically chemotherapy which destroys cancerous leukemia cells and allows normal function of the bone marrow to resume.