Symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia 

Symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia usually begin slowly before rapidly getting severe as the number of blast cells (immature white blood cells) in your blood increases.

Most of the symptoms are caused by the lack of healthy blood cells in your blood supply.

Symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia include:

  • pale skin
  • feeling tired and breathless
  • having repeated infections over a short space of time
  • unusual and frequent bleeding, such as bleeding gums or nose bleeds
  • high temperature (fever) of 38C (100.4F) or above
  • night sweats
  • bone and joint pain
  • easily bruised skin
  • swollen lymph nodes (glands)
  • abdominal pain – caused by a swollen liver or spleen
  • unexplained weight loss 
  • a purple skin rash (purpura)

In some cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, the affected cells can spread from your bloodstream into your central nervous system. This can cause a series of neurological symptoms (related to the brain and nervous system), including:

  • headaches
  • seizures (fits)
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • dizziness

When to seek medical advice

If you or your child has some or even all of the symptoms listed above, it is still highly unlikely that acute leukaemia is the cause.

However, see your GP as soon as possible because any condition that causes these symptoms needs to be promptly investigated and treated.


Page last reviewed: 18/08/2014

Next review due: 18/08/2016