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Ask about leukaemia

Ask Caroline, a Macmillan Nurse working with people who have Leukaemia, Myelodysplasia and Myeloproliferative diseases. She'll aim to respond within 2 working days.

Blood tests

AKP1000
Posted by

Hello,

My wife has recently had some worrying symptoms which have developed over the last week. This includes extreme fatigue, chills, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, sore gums and enlarged lymph nodes. Last night she was finding it difficult to get out of bed. I am concerned that my wife might have acute Leukemia. 

We decided to go to A & E. They performed some blood tests and after a few hours told us that there was nothing wrong with my wife's blood. They said she was not anaemic and had a normal white cell count. I was under the impression that somebody with acute Leukemia would have abnormal blood test results. Can somebody with acute Leukemia have normal blood test results?

Caroline- Macmillan

Hi there,

thank you for your question. The answer is yes and no. The leukaemia cells would have to build up to a certain level before they would be detected. However, these symptoms may be a sign of other  illnesses as well. It would be worth going to your GP for a full medical to get her checked out and another blood test. Come back to us if you have any other questions.

Caroline - Macmillan  Information Nurse Specialist

Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.  

AKP1000
Posted by

Thank you. We had a meeting with our GP today and she stated that my wife's condition couldn't be leukemia as the blood results would have been different. I did not find this convincing as my wife has got worse (today she was unable to get out of bed by herself until about 2pm). The doctor did not provide a reason for my wife's symptoms and simply suggested waiting for the blood test results.

She did book another blood test for Monday (which is going to take 5 working days to process) and stated that she would tell us immediately if something was bad. We will probably do a private one in the meantime as they process the results within 4 hours. How long does it take for leukaemia cells to build up?

Caroline- Macmillan

It depends on the rate of the disease. If there are any leukaemia cells in her blood, the lab (regardless of being NHS or private) will notify your GP and local haematology team immediately and they will contact you. 

However, there could be other reasons for your wife's symptoms and I hope that your GP would follow these up when she gets her blood results.

Caroline - Macmillan  Information Nurse Specialist

Remember you can also speak with the Macmillan Support Line team of experts. Phone free on 0808 808 0000 (7 days a week, 8am-8pm) or by email.  

AKP1000
Posted by

Thanks - we just got the results for the blood test from the GP and they were good again. The doctor felt it might be a virus that caused the problem and a gum infection. Still seems strange that my wife had all these things in one go (weight loss, weakness, gum infections, lymph nodes, chills) but I guess we just have to trust the doctor.