BLOOD cancer symptoms can be mistaken for less serious health conditions, but it’s important to recognise all the signs to avoid potentially fatal consequences and complications. One indicator of the disease is bleeding from certain areas of the body.
Blood cancer can be split into three main types – leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system – an important part of the immune system – myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow, and leukaemia is cancer of the white blood cells.
While different blood cancers affect different parts of the body all three of the main types share similar symptoms – one being unusual and frequent bleeding, such as bleeding gums or nosebleeds.
Acute myeloid leukaemia
With acute myeloid leukaemia, symptoms usually develop over a few weeks and tend to become more severe.
Alongside unusual and frequent bleeding, the NHS says other symptoms include:
- Pale skin
- A hight temperature
- Excessive sweating
- Weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Easily bruised skin
- Flat red or purple spots on the skin
- Bone and joint pain
- A feeling of fullness or discomfort in your tummy, caused by swelling of the liver or spleen
Hodgkin lymphoma symptoms
The most common symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma is a swelling in the neck, armpit or groin, according to the health body.
It adds: “The swelling is usually painless, although some people find that it aches.
‘The swelling is caused by an excess of affected lymphocytes (white blood cells)collecting in a lymph node (also called lymph glands).
“Lymph nodes are pea-sized lumps of tissue found throughout the body. They contain white blood cells that help to fight infection.
“However, it’s highly unlikely that you have Hodgkin lymphoma if you have swollen lymph nodes, as these glands often swell as a response to infection.”
Other symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma include night sweats, unintentional weight loss, a high temperature, a persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness, persistent itching of the skin all over the body, persistent tiredness or fatigue, and an increased risk of infections.
Multiple myeloma may not cause symptoms in the early stages but can eventually lead to a white range of problems.
- Bone pain
- Bone fractures and spinal cord compression
- Repeated infections
- Raised calcium levels in the blood
- Unusual bleeding
- Thickened blood
- Kidney problems
You should see your GP if you experience any of the symptoms of blood cancer.
If your GP thinks you have leukaemia they’ll arrange blood tests to check your blood cell production.
The only way to confirm a diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma is by carrying out a biopsy.
If you suspect multiple myeloma your GP will examine you to check for bone tenderness, bleeding, signs of infection and any other symptoms that suggest you might have the disease. They may also arrange blood and urine tests.