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Leukemia (cont.)

Symptoms

Symptoms of leukemia depend on how much the cancer has grown and may include:

  • Fevers and night sweats.
  • Frequent or unusual infections.
  • Weakness and fatigue.
  • Headaches.
  • Bruising of the skin and bleeding from the gums or rectum.
  • Bone pain.
  • Joint pain.
  • Swelling in the belly or pain on the left side of the belly or in the left shoulder from a swollen spleen.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the armpit, neck, or groin.
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss because you feel full and don't want to eat.

The chronic forms of leukemia often cause no symptoms until much later in the disease.

What Happens

Stem cells are made in the bone marrow. Stem cells become:

In most cases of leukemia, there are too many abnormal white blood cells. These leukemia cells crowd out the normal blood cells in your bone marrow and build up in your lymph nodes, liver, and spleen. This makes it hard for your body to fight infections.

When the leukemia cells crowd out your normal cells, your blood cannot do its job. You may bleed or bruise easily, have more infections, and feel very tired.

Survival rates are different for each kind of leukemia. A 5-year survival rate is the percentage of people who are still alive 5 years or more after being diagnosed. These numbers do not necessarily show what will happen in your case. The following are estimated 5-year survival rates:1

These numbers come from reports that were done at least 5 years ago, before newer treatments were available. So chances of survival today are likely to be higher than these numbers.

eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise

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