Leukaemia symptoms are often mild at first, but slowly worsen over time. Some people with chronic (slow-growing) leukaemia don't notice any symptoms at all, and only find out they have the disease when they have a routine blood test.
The symptoms of leukaemia depend on how many abnormal white blood cells are in the body, and where they collect.
In cases of acute (fast-growing) leukaemia, abnormal white blood cells multiply rapidly and spill out from the bone marrow into the bloodstream, crowding out healthy blood cells, which can no longer do their job properly.
In chronic leukaemia, abnormal white blood cells fail to die, and slowly build up in the bloodstream, bone marrow, and other organs.
Common symptoms of leukaemia
Some of the more common symptoms of leukaemia include:
- anaemia (paleness, weakness, breathlessness)
- repeated infections, for example mouth sores, infected cuts and scratches
- prone to bruising and bleeding.
Other symptoms of leukaemia
Less common symptoms of leukaemia can include:
- bone pain
- chest pain
- painful or swollen gums
- skin rashes
- headaches or eyesight problems
- enlarged spleen or lymph glands.
If you notice any of these symptoms, it doesn't mean you have leukaemia, but it's a good idea to see your doctor for a check-up.
Last reviewed: April 2017