Leukemia is a blood cancer and, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the US, blood cancers, myeloma, and lymphoma account for 9.9% of all new cases that are diagnosed annually in the country. Leukemia is also one of the most common cancer occurring in children and teens. Early diagnosis and the right treatment can help.
It is crucial to be aware of the signs and symptoms that indicate the possibility of leukemia. Like many cancers, leukemia is asymptomatic in the early stages. But, because blood flows all over the body, blood cancer spread faster than rest and is bound to spread more quickly. That’s why it is important to be tuned in to your body and to teach the children to communicate about how they are feeling.
Awareness is one of the best ways to protect your health and your family’s well-being. Stay with us as we describe the signs of leukemia that you should note. To understand a bit about leukemia, you need to know what the types and effects of cancer are.
Types and Classification of Leukemia
Leukemia is described based on white blood cells that it attacks. Lymphocytic leukemia occurs in certain white blood cells called lymphocytes within the bone marrow. Myeloid cell leukemia starts with other white blood cells rather than lymphocytes and can present itself in the platelets and red blood cells.
Leukemia is also based on how aggressively cancer grows.
- Acute Leukemia: When the cancerous cells develop out of nowhere and grow very quickly
- Chronic Leukemia: If the cells grow and multiply slowly yet consistently, it is called chronic leukemia.
Following the most commonly described four types of leukemia.
- AML (acute myeloid leukemia) AML is the most common form of acute leukemia. It happens when the bone marrow produces blasts which are immature cells. In the healthy bone marrow, blasts develop into white blood cells. But, in AML, the cells do not mature and are unable to fight infections.
- ALL (acute lymphocytic leukemia) In ALL, abnormal white cells accumulate in the bone marrow and replace or crowd out healthy cells. These abnormal cells are carried throughout the body in the bloodstream which makes them prone to infecting another organ. This can occur at any age.
- CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia) CLL is slow-growing leukemia and slowly grows in the body over a period. CLL can spread through lymph nodes and slowly to the spleen and other organs.
- CML (chronic myeloid leukemia) CML is slow-growing and starts in the bone marrow and then spread to other organs. These cancerous cells make their way to the bloodstream and other organs.
7 Signs and Symptoms of Leukemia That You Should Know:
Here are some common symptoms that may indicate leukemia.
- Anemia and related symptoms: Iron deficiency is the most common form of anemia and usually results due to blood loss. It can also be the result of malabsorption syndrome. Symptoms are usually non-specific. RBCs tend to be hypochromic and microcytic. Low serum iron levels and low ferritin levels indicate low iron stores. High serum total iron-binding capacity happens to exists. Occult blood loss could be suspected during the diagnosis until it’s proven otherwise.
Treatment involves iron replacement and treatment of the cause of blood loss.
The distribution of iron occurs in active metabolic acid and storage pools. Total body iron is about 2.5 g in women and 3.5g in healthy men. This difference relates to women’s smaller body size and the iron loss due to menses is the reason for the less amount of the stored iron.
- Bleeding or bruising easily: As blood cancer or leukemia can affect how much or how easily you bleed. If you find the smallest bump leaves you bruised or tiny spots of blood appear under the skin, it is a warning sign. Leukemia may also cause a loss of blood and may occur in the urine or stool, with the increase in the frequency of nose bleeds, or bleeding gums while eating or brushing.
- Susceptibility to infections: If you were previously able to avoid seasonal bugs, however, now you fall sick more frequently, leukemia could be the reason. It most commonly causes sore throat or bronchial pneumonia, including symptoms such as a low-grade fever, headache, mouth sores, or skin rash.
- Swollen lymph nodes: Leukemia causes the development of swollen lymph nodes in the throat, armpits, or groins. However, lymph nodes also swell in response to common infections and stress. Also, swollen lymph nodes may not indicate leukemia every time. Track this symptom if you are experiencing any of these discomforts.
- Loss of weight and appetite: Even though leukemia does not attack your digestive system directly, the associated cancer cells produce some substances that are known to change the way the body metabolizes food. These toxins may cause a chronic loss of appetite and leads to unintended weight loss.
- Pain under the lower left rib: Some forms of blood cancer may irritate the enlarged spleen causing painful pressure under the lower ribs on the left side. An enlarged spleen may also press on your stomach making you feel full even after you haven’t eaten, thereby contributing to a loss of appetite and weight loss, which makes you prone to infections.
- Night sweats: Night sweats happen when the body temperature rises overnight and sweating is triggered to cool it down. You may notice feeling too hot, but you will likely wake up when you become chilled due to drenched clothes. There are many causes of night sweats but, those related to leukemia may be triggered by an infection or sudden fever.
The leukemia signs that we have described are the early signs and symptoms and are relatively mild. However, in more advanced leukemia, a very high blood cell count can cause vision problems, ringing in the ears, stroke, and other significant changes to the mental status. Please see your doctor as soon as you notice these listed symptoms and opt for homeopathy along with an allopathy mode of treatment.