Since there are a wide variety of types of leukemia, symptoms can vary greatly; however, many common symptoms of leukemia include fever, chronic fatigue, frequent and severe infections, unexplained weight loss, swollen lymph nodes, enlarged liver or spleen, bleeding or bruising, petechiae (red spots on the skin), excessive night sweats and pain or tenderness in the bones, as stated by Mayo Clinic. Since many of these symptoms indicate other, more minor illnesses, such as the flu, it is easy to overlook the possibility of leukemia. Essentially, if any of these symptoms are persistent and worry patients, then they should seek professional medical attention to test for possibilities of leukemia.
There are multiple steps involved in diagnosing leukemia, according to WebMD. Since leukemia is difficult to diagnose with symptoms alone, it is important to get routine tests and physicals performed. Blood tests can measure the white blood cell count and aid the doctor in diagnosis, since abnormal white blood cell counts can hint at leukemia. However, in order to narrow down the precise form of leukemia in a patient, a needle biopsy and aspiration of bone marrow can be performed. This biopsy is taken from the pelvic bone and is tested for leukemic cells, DNA markers and chromosome changes.