Fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms
Swollen or tender lymph nodes, liver, or spleen
Easily bruising or bleeding
Swollen or bleeding gums
Sweating especially at night
Loss of appetite and/or weight
Weakness and fatigue
Tiny red spots called petechiae under the skin
Bone or joint pain
Coughing, shortness of breath
An enlarged, painless testicle
Difficulty maintaining balance
Poor healing of minor cuts
The other type of leukemia is chronic leukemia, which has some symptoms similar to those found with acute leukemia. A large percentage of people with chronic leukemia may suffer from weakness, fatigue, weight loss, fever, bone pain, or a feeling of fullness or pain in the abdomen especially after a small meal.
However, there is a smaller percentage of people who do not have any of these symptoms at all. These people found out they had leukemia after a blood test taken for other reasons.
Figure 1, drawing blood from patient for blood test.
Symptoms of leukemia may be associated with other cancers. Doctors perform specific blood tests to determine if a person has leukemia; blood is drawn from patient (Fig. 1). Classification of the type of leukemia may require tests of bone marrow cells as well. Bone marrow is removed from the back of the patient's hipbone with a needle. Using a microscope, doctors identify blood and bone cells in order to classify leukemia type and subtype. From the identification of cells, doctors can use the information to decide which treatments will work best.
In the case of Isaiah as well as in the cases of many other leukemia sufferers, doctors decided that a bone marrow transplant would be the best hope.*
* This story was adapted from “A Common Pain: Native Families Increasingly Feel the Impact of Cancer.” By Diana Campbell