To determine if you have leukemia, have a doctor diagnose the condition by ordering blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy, suggests Cleveland Clinic. To diagnose leukemia, doctors initially order a complete blood count test to find an abnormal white blood cell count, after which they order a bone marrow biopsy for confirmation.
The bone marrow biopsy procedure involves obtaining a bone marrow tissue sample from a pelvic bone and testing the sample for chromosomal abnormalities and cancer cells, notes Cleveland Clinic. Doctors sometimes diagnose leukemia after a routine blood test, as patients with chronic leukemia often do not have symptoms in the early stages of the disease. Symptoms that signal leukemia include enlarged lymph nodes, bruising, a small rash and severe fatigue.
When diagnosing leukemia, doctors also look at a patient's medical history and exposure to other risk factors, explains Healthline. Risk factors for leukemia include smoking, chemical exposure, radiation exposure, genetic disorders and chemotherapy. Once a patient has received a diagnosis of leukemia, doctors order other tests to determine the severity of the disease, including flow cytometry, liver function tests, lumbar puncture and imaging studies. The flow cytometry test analyzes the growth rate of the cancer cells, the liver function tests determine whether the cancer cells affect the liver, the lumbar puncture test tells whether cancer has spread to the central nervous system, and the imaging studies assess the damage that the cancer has caused in various organs.