Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. This condition happens when there is an abnormal production of certain blood cells. Blood functions begin to falter as the healthy blood cells are crowded by the unhealthy ones.
There are certain physical symptoms that you’ll start to notice as the disease progresses slowly. Here are a few subtle signs that you should know:
Excessive bruising happens due to clotting issues or low platelet count. Purple marks will be visible in different parts of your body.
Pamela Crilley, DO, chair of the department of medical oncology at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America and chief of medical oncology at the Eastern Regional Medical Center, says that:
“You will bruise spontaneously, seemingly doing nothing. It can be anywhere, but typically they’ll be on the extremities—legs and arms.”
Shortness Of Breath
You might experience shortness of breath as you grow weaker and more fatigued. Due to this, just a simple task of walking in the room might leave you gasping for air. Also, shortness of breath might also be a symptom of lung cancer.
Fatigue And Weakness
You might often feel exhausted and tired even after sleeping for 8 hours mainly because of the deficiency of red blood cells, a condition which is also called anemia.
Anne Renteria, M.D., assistant professor of medicine, hematology, and medical oncology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City, explained that:
“Exhaustion is something we all kind of consider to be normal, but when you’re disproportionately tired, or find yourself unable to get through simple chores without falling asleep, it’s time to do something about it. It’s a problem when the regular crazy life you were once able to tolerate suddenly becomes intolerable.”
Profusely sweating at night is not a normal thing. You need to immediately talk to your doctor about this since night sweats are very common with acute leukemia.
Feeling Full Or Bloated
If you have chronic or acute leukemia, you’ll experience what’s called “early satiety.” You’ll have an enlarged spleen which is pushing up on the stomach, thus leading to loss of appetite and always feeling full.
A leukemia patient may frequently get sick or have a sickness that lasts far longer than normal because the bone marrow prevents the formation of white blood cells that fights infections.
Renteria added that:
“Flu or a cold that might normally last five days starts lasting two weeks. You might start having fevers a lot or develop pneumonia. You’re just sick all the time.”
You might experience sudden gum bleeding or nosebleeds due to lack of platelets – which cause blood to clot. Sometimes, even a paper cut takes a longer time to heal properly.
Immediately see a doctor if you experience unusual or excessive bleeding.
Do you always experience headaches? This might not always be due to tension or stress. Frequent headaches are related to leukemia or a life-threatening case of bleeding in the head.
Swollen Or Enlarged Gums
Gingival hyperplasia, a condition wherein a person experiences an increase in the size of the gums, is usually found in patients with acute leukemia.
When you experience this symptom you nearly always feel a strange tightness in your mouth.
A Skin Rash
Leukemia patients may experience skin rashes that falls into one of two categories. A rash caused by Sweet’s syndrome which is usually associated with leukemia and appears red and angry, similar to an allergic reaction. The other one is leukemia of the skin which looks like your skin has a lump inserted inside it and has a little mound that starts growing. Occasionally it can be a plaque-like thing. These rashes continue to grow and spread.