Leukemia Symptoms in Women

Leukemia refers to the cancer of the blood or bone marrow. The following write-up provides information on the characteristic symptoms of leukemia in women.
HerHaleness Staff
Last Updated: Apr 23, 2018
Leukemia is a type of cancer of the blood-forming tissues of the body. In case of people affected by this condition, white blood cells that help protect the body from infections, grow and divide abnormally. If a blood test shows an abnormal increase in the white blood cells, diagnostic tests must be conducted to ascertain the underlying cause.
Symptoms of Leukemia in Women
Some of the symptoms of the cancer of blood or bone marrow are vague and non-specific. The symptoms in women and men tend to be similar. If you are a woman, and your WBC count is abnormally high, you must seek medical help at the earliest. Women should be aware of the subtle signs their bodies give out indicating an abnormal cell growth within their body. Here are some of the common symptoms in women.
Chronic Cough
One of the early symptoms is chronic cough or chest pain. You should watch out for persistent cough or repeated cycles of coughing without any apparent reason. Also, if you often experience a pain radiating from the chest down towards your arm or shoulder, visit a doctor for a check up. A bad cough or bronchitis can be a sign of cancer of the blood-forming tissues or lung cancer.
Frequent Infections
Are you falling sick all the time and experiencing recurring fevers? This can be a sign of blood cancer as abnormal blood cells cannot fight infections and make a person vulnerable to different infections. If you are forever complaining of fever, aches, flu-like symptoms occurring out of the blue, speak to your doctor and get yourself examined.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
As explained earlier, leukemia is a cancer of bone marrow and lymph nodes. A woman affected by this condition may suffer from an enlarged or swollen lymph node in the neck or armpit. These are usually painless. If the swelling persists for more than 6 weeks, visit the doctor as soon as possible.
Unexplained Bruising
If you observe unexplained black and blue marks on your body it may suggest something is wrong with your platelets and red blood cells. If you get easily bruised in odd places like your fingers and hands, get yourself examined.
Excessive Bleeding
Unusual and excessive bleeding of gums or heavy flow during your menstrual cycles may be indicative of blood cancer. This means, that the leukemia cells are increasing in number quickly and outnumbering the red blood cells and platelets. This decreases the blood's ability to clot and even carry oxygen.
Development of petechiae, which are red or purple spots on face, neck and chest could very well be a sign of cancer and you should get this checked out by a medical professional.
Do you feel fatigued even after a good night's sleep? Generalized weakness and fatigue could be a symptom of cancer. If you are feeling unusually tired even if you get adequate sleep and rest, then you should get yourself checked. Also, lethargy can be a sign of different types of cancers.
Abdominal Pain
The abnormal white blood cells can cause the spleen to enlarge, which in turn may cause abdominal pain. Pelvic pain could be a sign of cancers including ovarian cancer, fibroid, etc. Get yourself examined by a doctor as pelvic and abdominal pain may be one of the many symptoms of this condition.
Other Symptoms of Leukemia in Women
Unusual loss of appetite, weight loss, bleeding gums, etc., are other signs. Joint pain, bone tenderness are symptoms of chronic leukemia. The abnormal white blood cells attack the bones and bone marrow making them weak and brittle. Excessive sweating, especially at night can be an early symptom. Shortness of breath and long periods of coughing could be a sign of blood cancer. Acute symptoms include headaches, vomiting, confusion, loss of muscle control and even seizures. The number of red blood cell count decreases due to the increase in abnormal white blood cells. This can lead to anemia.
Blood cancer can occur due to a wide range of reasons. Some of the contributory factors include:
  • One of the prominent risk factors is smoking. It has been seen that smokers are prone to blood cancer and other cancers than non-smokers. However, non-smokers too are at risk.
  • Those who work with chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene or are exposed to these chemicals are at risk of developing blood cancer.
  • Excessive exposure to radioactive rays increases the risk. Those who undergo chemotherapy as well as radiation therapy to cure other cancers, can develop blood cancer in the long run.
  • Infection with human T-cell leukemia virus 1 (HTLV-1) puts a peraon at an increased risk.
  • Those who develop a rare blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome are also at a risk.
  • Those who have a close relative suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukemia are at a higher risk than those who do not have a family history of blood cancer.
If you are experiencing any of the aformentioned symptoms, seek medical help. Women should go in for routine full body check up, pap smear and mammogram for early diagnosis and treatment.
The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.