Leukaemia (blood cancer)

In leukaemia, blood cells multiply uncontrollably (blood cancer).

Overview

In leukaemia, blood cells multiply uncontrollably (blood cancer). Despite their large number, the blood cells don’t work the way they should. This leads to a weakened immune system, a tendency to bleed easily, paleness and fatigue. Possible therapies include chemotherapy, radiation or a bone marrow transplant.

Symptoms

Main symptoms

  • Tendency to bleed easily (e.g. frequent nosebleeds, gum bleeding)
  • Weakened immune system, often sick
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits and groin
  • Enlarged spleen and liver

Chronic leukaemia often begins gradually. Acute leukaemia occurs suddenly and often progresses aggressively.

Other symptoms

  • Lack of appetite, weight loss
  • Lack of energy, paleness, fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Itching

Causes and treatment

Causes

The exact causes aren't always clear. Risk factors include:

  • Weakened immune system (e.g. after chemotherapy or because of AIDS)
  • Radiation (e.g. to treat cancer)
  • Certain chemicals (e.g. benzene and some insecticides)
  • Gene mutations
  • Certain viruses are being discussed

Further treatment by your doctor / in hospital

Possible tests
  • Blood test
  • Bone marrow biopsy
Possible therapies
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Bone marrow transplant

When to see a doctor?

  • Frequent and prolonged bleeding
  • Unexplained and persistent exhaustion or paleness
  • Frequent infections
  • Painless, chronically swollen lymph nodes

Further information

Swiss Cancer League (Krebsliga Schweiz)
www.krebsliga.ch

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CSS offers no guarantee for the accuracy and completeness of the information. The information published is no substitute for professional advice from a doctor or pharmacist.

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