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The signs or symptoms of leukemia may vary depending on whether you have an acute or chronic type of leukemia.
Acute leukemia may cause signs and symptoms that are similar to the flu. They come on suddenly within days or weeks.
Chronic leukemia often causes only a few symptoms or none at all. Signs and symptoms usually develop gradually. People with a chronic leukemia often complain that they just do not feel well. The disease is often found during a routine blood test.
Other health conditions can cause the same symptoms as leukemia. See your doctor if you have:
In some cases, leukemia or its treatments can cause serious problems. These cancer-related emergencies need to be treated right away.
Tumour lysis syndrome can occur when chemotherapy is given to treat acute leukemia, but the cancer cells die quickly and the kidneys can’t remove the substances they release from the blood fast enough. Find out more about tumour lysis syndrome.
Superior vena cava syndrome (SVCS) may occur when too many leukemia cells develop in the thymus, causing it to get bigger and block the windpipe. SVCS may develop with acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Find out more about superior vena cava syndrome.
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a condition where blood clots develop in the bloodstream and bleeding also occurs. DIC can develop more often with acute promyelocytic leukemia, but also with other subtypes of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). Find out more about disseminated intravascular coagulation.
The Canadian Cancer Society is funding lifesaving clinical trials that give people with cancer access to the newest types of treatment.