From Children To Adults: Signs & Symptoms Of Leukaemia According To Age

Leukemia is a serious condition that can be prevented with timely diagnosis. Watch out for these potential symptoms.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarUpdated at: Oct 12, 2022 13:56 IST
From Children To Adults: Signs & Symptoms Of Leukaemia According To Age

Leukaemia is the umbrella term used for blood cancers that originate in the bone marrow and lymphatic system. Leukaemia occurs when the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells that hampers their functioning. There are various types of leukaemia, some of which occur only in adults while some affect only children. Leukaemia is treatable only if it is diagnosed in time, but for that early identification of symptoms is crucial. Most of the symptoms of leukaemia are similar to other illnesses and not distinct enough, which makes early diagnosis difficult. In this article, we will explain the possible signs and symptoms of leukaemia in different age groups.

Common signs of leukaemia

The most common warning signs of leukaemia are:

  • Fever
  • Night sweats
  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Repeated infections
  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Pain in bones and joints

While the above-mentioned symptoms are common, here are some rare symptoms that some people may experience:

  • Stomach discomfort
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Heart palpitations
  • Feeling numbness in hands and feet
  • Headaches
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Itchy skin and skin infections
  • Sudden weight loss

Leukaemia Symptoms By Age

Leukaemia signs According To Age

There are four types of leukaemia that are classified on the basis of affected stem cells (lymphoid or myeloid) and progression of the cancer, whether acute or chronic. These are:

  • Acute myeloid (or myelogenous) leukaemia (AML)
  • Chronic myeloid (or myelogenous) leukaemia (CML)
  • Acute lymphocytic (or lymphoblastic) leukaemia (ALL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)

Also, some of these are more common in certain age groups.

Find below a specific list of symptoms of leukaemia in particular age groups.

Leukaemia symptoms in children below 16 years

Children are prone to acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Here are potential symptoms to watch out for:

  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pain and discomfort
  • Bleeding and bruising
  • High fever
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Repeated infections

Symptoms of leukaemia in young adults

Leukaemia signs in adults

Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia is more common in adults aged between 16 to 30 years. Look out for these possible symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Restlessness
  • Breathlessness
  • Feeling weak
  • Bleeding and bruising
  • Frequent heachaches
  • Bone and joint pain

Symptoms of leukaemia in older adults

People aged between 31-49 years are more susceptible to acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). Here are symptoms that may indicate you have leukaemia:

  • Acute weakness
  • Feeling lethargic all day
  • Getting infections frequently and repeatedly
  • Getting bruises and injuries frequently
  • Acute pain in joints and bones
  • Getting frequent fevers

Symptoms of leukaemia in elders

This is a tender age where wear and tear is very common. People between 50-64 years must watch out for these potential signs of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and chronic lymphocytic leukaemia:

  • Repeated infection
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Acute pain in the bones and joints
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling weak

Symptoms of leukaemia in people 65 years and above

These people have a weaker body and immune system, which makes them an easy target for chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Here are some symptoms that characterise CLL:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent high fever
  • Sudden or unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen lymph nodes


If you experience two or more of the symptoms in the listed age groups, you must consult your doctor and get tested for leukaemia. The earlier diagnosis, the better chances of treatment and recovery.

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