Symptoms depend on the type of leukemia. With acute leukemia, symptoms usually happen suddenly and can be similar to symptoms of a viral infection like the flu. Chronic leukemia may not cause symptoms for months or years.
The general signs and symptoms of leukemia include:
- Recurrent infections
- Easy bruising or bleeding
- Night sweats
- Unintentional weight loss
Your symptoms may prompt your doctor to perform diagnostic tests for leukemia. In some cases, leukemia is discovered unexpectedly when your doctor orders a blood test for another reason.
In addition to a physical exam, your leukemia diagnosis at Miami Cancer Institute may include:
- Blood tests - These reveal abnormal blood cell counts.
- Bone marrow aspiration or biopsy- These tests look at a sample of liquid bone marrow or solid bone marrow to see how many cancer cells are in your bone marrow. They can also provide other information about leukemia cells. Your doctor obtains a bone marrow sample with a special needle that is typically inserted into the hip bone. A local anesthetic is used to numb the site of the procedure. Samples may be taken from one or both hips.
- Lumbar puncture - Doctors often recommend a lumbar puncture to check if leukemia cells are in the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord). Your doctor obtains a sample of cerebrospinal fluid by injecting a needle between two vertebra and collecting the fluid in a container. A local anesthetic is used to numb the site of the procedure.