Leukemia is not a common diagnosis. There are so many other explanations for your symptoms. At age 15 your body is still changing rather quickly, it may be your body's way of growing up during this period. You may be slightly anemic but even so, leukemia is not likely.
Leukemia is a cancer of the bone marrow. The marrow is responsible for producing the blood cells. When it becomes cancerous, the cancer cells produce faulty or even cancerous blood cells at an uncontrolled rate. The blood cells crowd the bones and crowd out the healthy marrow and push cancerous blood cells into the blood stream. Due to this there is often a great deal of bone pain and bruising because the leukemic blood cells do not work as they are supposed to. At your age, the acute leukemias are more likely to occur than the chronic leukemias. In fact, chronic leukemia is almost never seen in patients under the age of 55 although it does happen. Acute leukemias (ALL and AML) are rapidly developing cancers and can be lethal without treatment within several weeks. Since you said you've been feeling ill for a few weeks, it's not likely that you have an acute leukemia. You would be very sick by now and not here online.
There are lots of symptoms of leukemia but each individual is different. Some display some symptoms while others display other ones. There's no actual tumour as in other cancers but leukemia is a cancer of the cells that create blood cells. E had a cold in November that he just couldn't kick. We took him to the doctor and he was given an antibiotic. We were also told that he was anemic so he was given an iron supplement. He got a little better but as soon as he finished the antibiotic he got sick again. He usually has a couple bruises here and there since he is a 2 year old. His walking was greatly affected from one of the drugs in his first chemo cocktail so he trips and falls pretty often. But the bruising he had was more than usual - he bruised at the slightest bump. That's when we really knew something was wrong and took him to the doctor again. He was admitted while his bloodwork was running so he could be hydrated since he refused to eat or drink. His oncologist came to talk to my wife and I and told us that his counts were way off normal, we knew he was at risk for developing a secondary cancer but didn't think it would really happen to him. His oncologist said there were some leukemic-looking cells in his CBC and that a bone marrow biopsy would confirm a diagnosis.
Once he was diagnosed we found out that his spleen and liver were enlarged - also symptoms of leukemia. Due to the extent of enlargement of his spleen, he had it removed after a round of chemotherapy. So far he has had 3 strong doses of induction chemo and 3 consolidation rounds, he was given another 2 strong doses of chemo due to a tumour in his liver that was removed last month and typed as a new cancer - a Hepatoblastoma. He just finished his 3rd round of that Friday. He does stay in the hospital during his chemo. His chemo lasts 7 days and he usually stays for up to 2 weeks. He will also have a bone marrow transplant when a donor becomes available. The chances of relapse with AML are pretty high. Since this is his second time fighting cancer he is considered at a greater risk for relapse so the bone marrow transplant is the best choice for him.
He had some joint pain at the time of diagnosis. I have to say I didn't really think too much of the joint pain because he doesn't walk well due to one of the previous chemotherapy drugs he had - Vincristine. Because of Vincristine his leg muscles are weaker and he walks with "slapfoot" or "dropfoot" and he trips and falls fairly often. I figured his joint pain was because of falling but since his diagnosis I now see that it was probably because of the leukemia. On treatment he has had a significant amount of bone and joint pain, especially early on. When it's clear that he is in pain, he does get pain meds to help. I think the painkillers do help him but I think even then he does have some pain but duller than without painkillers.
I think I'm about out of room here and I hope this helped you out some. If you have any more questions feel free to email me (email@example.com) or IM me (crazycanuckj).
My 2 year old son is a warrior who beat a Stage I FH Wilms' Tumour and is currently battling Secondary Acute Myelogenous Leukemia and a Stage III Hepatoblastoma.
· 1 decade ago