In many cases, chronic myelogenous leukemia shows no signs or symptoms when first diagnosed. Medical professionals first suspect that something is wrong when the result of a routine blood test comes back as abnormal. With further diagnostic testing, chronic myelogenous leukemia may be diagnosed. The signs and symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia tend to develop slowly over time as the condition is considered a progressive condition that steadily becomes worse over time.
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The condition is caused by the corruption of a single DNA chromosome which causes the bone marrow to produce abnormal blood cells at an enormous rate. These blood cells reproduce quickly and do not die when they should, which causes overcrowding in the blood stream and the death of many healthy blood cells.
The first symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia are usually mild and can easily be mistaken for the symptoms of many other, less serious conditions. The individual may experience fatigue, night sweats, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, weight loss, or fever. In many cases, individuals treat these symptoms with over the counter medications for weeks or months before deciding that the length of time that the symptoms have lasted warrants a visit to the doctor’s office. Once the individual has described their symptoms to the doctor, they will generally conduct a blood test to help determine the cause of the appearance of symptoms. It is when the physician receives the results back from the lab that chronic myelogenous leukemia is typically diagnosed. In some cases, further testing may be needed to rule out other conditions.
As the condition progresses, the signs and symptoms of the condition will become more severe and serious. As the number of white blood cells in the body becomes lower, the body is less able to fight infections effectively. This results in more frequent infections that last for longer periods of time. These infections can become serious threats to the health of the individual if not treated promptly as the body will be unable to fight the infection on its own. A reduced number of platelets in the blood due to chronic myelogenous leukemia will leave the body unable to heal itself from even minor trauma. Platelets are the substance that causes blood clots and helps the edges of the wound bind together. If there are not enough platelets in the blood, wounds will not heal properly and the individual will not be able to stop the bleeding from minor or major wounds. This is dangerous because individuals with low platelet counts are at an increased risk of bleeding to death from minor wounds.
If chronic myelogenous leukemia affects the levels of red blood cells in the blood stream, a serious complication called anemia may develop. Individuals need proper amounts of red blood cells in the body to carry oxygen to all of the body’s systems. If the number of red blood cells present is too low to supply the entire body, the body becomes starved of oxygen and the systems of the body begin to shut down. This process is called anemia and can be life threatening if not treated promptly. Individuals with anemia may experience excessive fatigue, shortness of breath, pale skin, and muscle weakness. Sometimes the affected blood cells begin to collect in the liver or spleen of the individual causing swelling and abdominal pain. The appearance of any symptoms of chronic myelogenous leukemia should be examined by a medical professional as soon as possible to determine the exact cause of the symptoms.
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