Symptoms of ALL can be similar to those caused by other illnesses. The symptoms are caused by too many abnormal white blood cells and not enough normal white cells, red cells and platelets.
Symptoms of ALL might include one or more of the following:
- feeling weak or tired
- flu-like symptoms
- a high temperature (fever)
- picking up or not being able to shake off infections such as coughs and colds
- bruising and bleeding easily
- weight loss
- swelling of your lymph nodes
- pain in your bones or joints
- feeling full in your tummy (abdomen)
- looking pale or washed out
You might feel weaker than normal.
Feeling tired (fatigue)
You might feel more tired than normal, even if you're getting a good nights sleep.
High temperature (fever)
You might have a high temperature or feel feverish.
You might pick up infections such as coughs and colds easily. Or you might find that the infections last a long time and are difficult to shake off.
This is because you don’t have enough healthy white blood cells to fight bacteria or viruses.
Bruising or bleeding easily
You might have:
- bleeding gums when you clean your teeth
- very heavy periods
- small dark red spots on your skin
- blood in your wee (urine) or poo (stool)
You might find you are bruising more easily than normal.
You might lose weight even if you haven't changed your diet.
Swollen lymph nodes
Your lymph nodes (glands) might feel swollen when you touch them. You have lymph nodes in lots of places in your body. They might feel swollen in:
- your neck
- under your armpit
- in your groin
Pain in your bones or joints
You might feel pain in your bones or joints. This might be a dull ache or more of a stabbing pain. It might be worse at different times of the day.
Too many abnormal white blood cells collecting in the bones, joints or lymph nodes may cause pain and swelling.
Feeling short of breath (breathlessness)
You might feel breathless when doing your normal day to day activities or from climbing a short flight of stairs. This could be because you do not have enough red blood cells.
Feeling full in your tummy (abdomen)
You might have a feeling of fullness or discomfort in your tummy (abdomen). This can happen if your liver or spleen are swollen.
You might look paler or more 'washed out' than normal.
A type of leukaemia called T cell ALL can cause swollen lymph nodes in the centre of your chest. It might make the thymus gland in your upper chest bigger. The swollen nodes or thymus gland may press on the windpipe, causing breathlessness and coughing.
They can also press on the veins carrying blood from the head. This causes pressure in the blood vessels and makes the face, neck and arms swell and go red. This is called superior vena cava obstruction (SVCO).
When to see your doctor
You should get any of these symptoms checked by your GP. But remember, they can all be caused by other medical conditions. Most people with these symptoms don’t have leukaemia.