Leukemia: When should one seek medical advice?

By  , Expert Content
Nov 28, 2011

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Signs and symptoms of leukemia are not quite diagnostic. Similar symptoms can be caused due to many other medical problems. Most cancer, if diagnosed in early stages, responds better to treatment and the prognosis is better, hence it is important to pay attention to any complaint that persists for more than a few days.

Consult your doctor if you have any/all of the following symptoms suggestive of some type of severe medical problem:

  • Frequent or recurrent fever (for more than a few days).
  • Swelling or lump under the arms, in the groin, chest and neck; these may be enlarged lymph nodes due to collection of cancer cells in them.
  • Frequent or recurrent nosebleeds, bleeding from the gums or rectum, easy bruising, heavy menstrual bleeding, purplish patches in the skin or tiny red spots under the skin.
  • Profuse t sweating at night.
  • Unexplained or unintended weight loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Feeling tired or fatigued without a known reason.
  • Swelling and pain in abdomen.
  • Pain in the bones or joints.
  • Recurrent or persistent headaches.

These signs and symptoms do not mean that you have leukemia. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days, consult your doctor.  Your doctor can diagnose the cause of your problems and treat them accordingly.

Watchful Waiting

Watchful waiting is a period in which you are not given any treatment but are on regular follow-ups with the doctor. During this observation period, your doctor will watch to see if you develop any symptoms. Period of watchful waiting is followed in some people with early chronic lymphocytic leukemia. This strategy is considered to be better than aggressive treatment for an early stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Many people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia may live for a long time without treatment. This strategy (watchful waiting) is usually not used for other types of leukemia.

During the period of watchful waiting:

  • Regular appointments with your doctor are recommended.
  • Regular medical tests, including scans and blood tests will be done.
  • You will be given details about various symptoms upon realising which, you should report to your doctor immediately.

Who to consult

Health professionals, who can be consulted to evaluate your symptoms include:

  • General physicians.
  • Family doctor.
  • Physician’s assistants.
  • Internists.





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