Leukemia is one of the most common types of cancer, both among children and among adults and the elderly.
Leukemia usually starts in white blood cells (white blood cells), which are cells in our immune system responsible for fighting germs. This text deals exclusively with the most common symptoms of leukemia.
How exactly does leukemia affect the body?
Before we start talking about the symptoms of leukemia, let’s briefly talk about the role of healthy and diseased white blood cells.
The bone marrow is responsible for the production of white blood cells. In healthy people, the production of these cells is controlled by the body and goes on as usual, as needed by the immune system. During leukemia, cells mutate begin to differ from other leukocytes and begin to multiply uncontrollably.
Leukocytes – These are the cells that protect the body from germs. Whenever there is an infection, mainly of bacterial origin, the bone marrow increases the production of white blood cells so that the body has more room to defend itself. The blood contains an average of 4 to 11 thousand leukocytes per milliliter. During an infectious lesion, this number can increase to 20 thousand per milliliter. An increase in white blood cell count is called leukocytosis, and this is considered the body’s normal response to infection.
Leukemia is a cancer that starts in the bone marrow and causes uncontrolled production of white blood cells… Unlike leukocytosis, which occurs during infectious diseases, leukemia is an abnormal and harmful process. Leukocytes in leukemia are not typical and are not able to fight infection.
If during infections the number of leukocytes in the blood is usually about 30 thousand per milliliter, then with leukemia this number can be in the region of 60 thousand or even reach 100 thousand.
Leukocytes that undergo malignant transformation, that is, turn into cancer, begin to multiply uncontrollably. They occupy the entire bone marrow, due to which they can enter the blood and other organs.
There is acute leukemia. It is characterized by a high rate of cell division and their aggressiveness. And chronic. The evolution of this type of disease is slower, so it may take years before the first symptoms of the disease appear.
After completing a short explanation, you can talk about the main types of leukemia… There are four of them:
Acute myeloid leukemia. (AML)
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)
Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
The most common symptoms of leukemia
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A fever during leukemia can be caused by an infection that takes over as the white blood cells are overwhelmed by the disease and cannot fight it.
Patients with leukemia are more susceptible to infectious diseases. However, the most common type of fever is a fever caused directly by leukemia.
The fever due to leukemia usually lasts several days and is of unknown origin. The temperature can be high and can cause chills.
2. Increased sweating
3. Unreasonable weight loss
4. Swollen lymph nodes
A painless enlargement of lymph nodes, especially in the neck, armpits, in the supraclavicular lymph nodes and in the cubital fossa, is a common symptom of leukemia, especially acute lymphocytic and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, in which these enlargements are diagnosed in more than 50% of cases. In patients with acute myeloid leukemia, enlarged lymph nodes are atypical.
5. Enlargement of the spleen
The spleen is something like a giant lymph node whose function is to destroy old and defective blood cells. Spleen enlargement is very common in CML, ALL, and CLL, and can cause pain in the upper left abdomen.
6.7. Anemia and fatigue
The gigantic proliferation of cancer cells eventually engulfs the entire bone marrow, disrupting the production of other important blood cells such as red blood cells. A decrease in the number of red blood cells leads to anemia, which leads to symptoms such as fatigue, asthenia, poor exercise tolerance and pale skin.
8, 9. Bleeding and purple marks on the skin
Because the bone marrow is completely occupied by cancer cells and stops making red blood cells, it also stops making another type of blood cell called platelets. Platelets are responsible for blood clotting, so bleeding is not uncommon in patients with leukemia. They appear especially often in the gums. For the same reason, people with leukemia often have bruises (purple marks on the skin). Petechiae, which are several small red patches on the skin, may also appear.
10. Bone aches
The bone marrow is located inside the bones, because of this, the proliferation of malignant leukocyte cells can lead to pain. Another cause of pain can be metastases that penetrate from the bone marrow into the bone.
Most of the above symptoms appear in acute forms of leukemia. Usually, leukemia is determined in the laboratory when not typical leukocytosis is found that is not caused by objective factors. Many patients develop chronic leukemia even before they develop clinical manifestations of the disease.