The Mayo Clinic defines leukemia as “cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues.” The disease most commonly affects white blood cells, which mutate and become cancerous. These cells are are primarily produced in the bone marrow, but certain types are also made in the lymph nodes, spleen and thymus gland.
Each of the seven subtypes of leukemia are classified based on how quickly the disease progresses—suddenly (acute) or slowly (chronic)—as well as which specific cells are affected. Although certain symptoms are very specific to the subtype of leukemia, there are several common signs of the disease—including these six.
As leukemia compromises the body’s blood cells, which are essential to a well-functioning immune system, those affected by the disease may become ill more often.
Symptoms of a cold or flu—such as a fever, chills or infections—are among the most common indicators a person may be battling leukemia. Because these symptoms resemble common illnesses, however, they can be easily overlooked.