Doctors may find chronic leukemia in a routine blood test, before symptoms begin. If this happens, or if you have signs or symptoms that suggest leukemia, you may undergo the following diagnostic exams:
- Physical exam. Your doctor will look for physical signs of leukemia, such as pale skin from anemia, swelling of your lymph nodes, and enlargement of your liver and spleen.
- Blood tests. By looking at a sample of your blood, your doctor can determine if you have abnormal levels of white blood cells or platelets — which may suggest leukemia.
- Bone marrow test. Your doctor may recommend a procedure to remove a sample of bone marrow from your hipbone. The bone marrow is removed using a long, thin needle. The sample is sent to a laboratory to look for leukemia cells. Specialized tests of your leukemia cells may reveal certain characteristics that are used to determine your treatment options.
You may undergo additional tests to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the type of leukemia and its extent in your body. Certain types of leukemia are classified into stages, indicating the severity of the disease. Your leukemia's stage helps your doctor determine a treatment plan.
March 26, 2015
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- Understanding leukemia. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. http://www.lls.org/resourcecenter/freeeducationmaterials/leukemia/understandingleukemia. Accessed March 11, 2015.
- Taking time: Support for people with cancer. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/publications/patient-education/taking-time. Accessed March 11, 2015.
- Cook AJ. Decision Support System. Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. March 11, 2015.
- Mesa RA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale/Phoenix, Ariz. March 11, 2015.
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