Some symptoms of T-cell leukemia include easy bruising or bleeding, itching skin, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and hypercalcemia, says the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Other symptoms are swelling of the face and arms, or breathing difficulties from the tumor presses against the windpipe, according to the American Cancer Society.
Some patients who have the "smouldering" type of T-cell leukemia are often asymptomatic or have rashes that can be treated with topical steroids, claims the National Institutes of Health. Their white blood cell count is often normal. Other patients have levels of blood calcium that are too high, which causes constipation and frequent urination.
Even asymptomatic patients who have T-cell leukemia have weakened immune systems and are at risk for infections that can be fatal, states the NIH. They are especially susceptible to infestation by a parasite called Strongyloides stercoralis. This is a roundworm usually found in the soil, according to the Centers for Disease Control. It's found so often in patients with T-cell leukemia that some doctors believe that the parasite has something to do with causing the leukemia in the first place.
T-cell leukemia is an uncommon type of leukemia that often begins in the thymus, a gland found in the upper part of the chest, according to the ACS. It usually strikes older adults and is rare in children, claims the NIH.