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Diagnosing Leukemia at Emory Winship

The most common symptoms of leukemia include:

  • Non-specific generalized symptoms ("systemic"): fever, chills, loss of appetite and/or weight loss and other flu-like symptoms
  • Symptoms related to blood count abnormalities
  • Weakness and fatigue (due to anemia)
  • Frequent infections, swollen or tender lymph nodes, liver, or spleen, and bone pain (related to the WBC)
  • Easy bleeding or bruising, tiny red spots the skin, and swollen or bleeding gums

The diagnosis of leukemia is based on examination under microscope of both blood and bone marrow. A bone marrow sample can be easily obtained with a needle from the iliac bone (hip bone) after a local anesthesia. Specific type of leukemia's are also diagnosed on the basis of features on the bone marrow cell surface (flow cytometry) and chromosome analysis.