Signs and symptoms of leukaemia

Leukaemia can be hard to spot because the signs and symptoms are common to other unrelated illnesses. Knowing what to look out for could help you make the decision to visit your GP sooner for a blood test.

The six most common symptoms experienced by all leukaemia patients prior to diagnosis. These are:

  1. Fatigue
  2. Shortness of breath
  3. Fever or night sweats
  4. Bruising or bleeding
  5. Bone/joint pain
  6. Repeated infections

Symptoms by age

There are four main types of leukaemia that differ by the rate of cancer progression (acute or chronic) and the type of blood stem cell affected (myeloid or lymphoid). Certain leukaemia types are more common at different ages. This means the symptoms most frequently experienced by people of different ages prior to diagnosis can vary.

Spot the most common leukaemia and frequently experienced symptoms in your age group:

Childhood (below 16 years)

The most common leukaemia in this age range is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The most common symptoms in this age range are:

16 to 24-year olds

The most common leukaemia in this age range is acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The most common symptoms in this age range are:

25 to 49-year olds

The most common leukaemia in this age range is acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). The most common symptoms in this age range are:

50 to 64-year olds

The most common leukaemia in this age range is acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). The most common symptoms are:

65 and over

The most common leukaemia in this age range is chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL). The most common symptoms in this age range are:

When should I be concerned?

It is important to visit your GP, if you are displaying more than one of the above symptoms. Since the symptoms are common to other unrelated illnesses, it is unlikely that leukaemia will be the cause, however, it is for this exact reason that leukaemia can be hard to spot, as the signs and symptoms are so easily misdiagnosed. Visiting the GP earlier can be crucial for either ruling leukaemia out or getting an early diagnosis.

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