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The Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

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Leukemia Symptoms

Leukemia symptoms may depend on the number of leukemia cells and on where these cells collect in the body. People with chronic leukemias may not have any symptoms, and the disease may be found during a routine blood test. People with acute leukemias, however, usually go to the doctor because they feel sick. If a patient’s brain is affected, he or she may have headaches, vomiting, confusion, loss of muscle control or seizures. Leukemia also can affect other parts of the body such as the digestive tract, kidneys, lungs, heart, or testes. 

If you experience any of the following symptoms of chronic or acute leukemia, see a doctor promptly:

Chronic leukemia 

  • Feeling very tired
  • Weight loss for no known reason
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Pain or a feeling of fullness below the ribs on the left side

Acute leukemia

  • Anemia (fatigue, paleness, shortness of breath)
  • Easy bruising and/or bleeding
  • Bone/joint/muscle pain
  • Fever
  • Night sweats and/or other signs of infection
  • Painless lumps in the neck, underarm or groin.