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What do the first signs of leukemia look like?

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Quick Answer

Early signs of leukemia can include fatigue, frequent infections, weakness, abdominal discomfort and joint pain, explains the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Other possible symptoms are pale skin, easy bleeding, gum problems, rashes and headaches, notes the American Cancer Society.

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Full Answer

Early symptoms of leukemia such as night sweats, fatigue, joint aches and fever may resemble symptoms of the flu, notes the Cancer Treatment Centers of America. Since leukemia causes the bone marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells that cannot protect the body, the patient gets frequent infections, explains Healthline.

Other early signs of leukemia are rashes and bruises on the skin, explains Healthline. The patient may have tiny red spots on the skin due to broken capillaries. Leukemia patients have an unusually large number of bruises, especially on the back. This is because their blood does not have enough platelets to close the damaged blood vessels. Patients bleed very easily from small injuries and cuts, and injuries bleed more than usual and are harder to stop. Sometimes, bleeding occurs in noninjured areas, such as the nose and gums.

Leukemia patients may notice that their skin looks paler, notes Healthline. This is mostly due to anemia as the body has insufficient red blood cells. The anemia causes symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, weakness and shortness of breath. Patients with acute myelogenous leukemia, a type of leukemia that commonly affects children, may have swollen or bleeding gums.

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