The first signs or symptoms of leukemia may not appear for months or years, depending on the type of leukemia, states Mayo Clinic. Early symptoms may be confused with more common illnesses, such as flu.
Leukemia is classified by both how fast it progresses and the type of blood cells it affects, according to Mayo Clinic. Chronic leukemia builds over time, and symptoms may not become apparent for months or years, requiring no treatment as the blood cells manage to function normally. Acute leukemia worsens quickly and may produce symptoms and require treatment right away, according to WebMD.
Depending on the type of leukemia, signs and symptoms can include chills, fever, weakness, persistent fatigue, unintentional weight loss and an enlarged spleen or liver, states Mayo Clinic. Other symptoms include frequent infections, easy bleeding or bruising, swollen lymph nodes, frequent nosebleeds and small red spots on the skin called petechiae. Night sweats and bone pain or tenderness are additional possible symptoms of the disease. In addition, WebMD lists loss of appetite, swelling and pain on the left side of the abdomen, bleeding from the gums or rectum, anemia and heavy menstrual bleeding as possible signs of leukemia. Doctors occasionally discover leukemia with no signs or symptoms through blood tests for other disorders, states Mayo Clinic.