9 Surprising Signs of Blood Cancer Doctors Usually Miss

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Fever

Because the bodies of people with leukemia aren’t able to produce healthy white blood cells, frequent infections are a very common symptom, says Dr. Fischer. You may feel like you have a cold or the flu, but what will make it stand out from a standard illness is if you have a fever of 102 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. “A [high] fever in an adult is not normal,” says Dr. Jacoub. Most cold and viruses run through our system in about three to five days, Dr. Fischer adds, so anything well past that should be discussed with your doctor. In addition, these infections don’t tend to improve with antibiotics.

woman scratching itch arm skin rash

Specific rashes

Clinically referred to as mycosis fungoides, this lymphoma-specific rash happens when malignant cells in the blood travel to the skin showing up as a scaly, itchy appearance on the body. That doesn’t mean every rash is a cause for concern, says Dr. Jacoub. But if it’s a persistent problem that’s not getting better with topical medication over time your doctor may refer you to an oncologist for diagnosis.

Close up asian man touching his neck and having sore throat.

Swollen lymph nodes

Painless swelling in your neck, armpits, or groin area can be a sign of blood cancer. Your lymph nodes contain white blood cells that help your body fight infection and disease. When these lymph nodes swell—and stay swollen—without any other symptoms (such as ear or throat pain), it may be a sign of blood cancer like lymphoma that originates in the lymph nodes or cancer that has spread to them.

stomach pain african woman abdominal pelvic

Abdominal swelling

If you constantly feel bloated or get full quickly after only eating a small amount, this could be a warning sign that something more serious is going on. Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) that is present in the liver or spleen inflate these organs, which may cause swelling in the abdomen area. This swelling can be so severe it can make it challenging for your doctor to feel these organs during an exam.

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