Having tests for ALL

It is important to remember that lots of different things can be causing symptoms of leukaemia. But you should visit your GP if you are worried. They can talk to you about your symptoms and arrange any tests you might need.

Visiting your GP

Your GP (family doctor) will examine you and arrange a blood test for you. The blood test might show that you could have leukaemia. If this happens, your GP will refer you to a specialist doctor at the hospital. The specialist doctor is called a haematologist. They treat people with blood problems.

At the hospital

The haematologist will examine you and ask you about your symptoms. They will also arrange for you to have some more tests. You may have:

  • Blood tests. You have probably already had blood tests. But you will need more once you have seen the haematologist. These tests look at the number and type of leukaemia cells you have, and any changes in them. This helps doctors decide the best treatment for you.
  • Bone marrow test. The doctors may take samples from your bone marrow. This shows the type of leukaemia you have. It gives doctors information they need to plan the best treatment for you.
  • Lumbar puncture. The doctors may need to take a small sample of the fluid that surrounds your brain and spinal cord. This is called cerebrospinal fluid. They check the fluid for leukaemia cells.
  • Chest x-ray. The doctors may need to see if there are any swollen lymph nodes (glands) in your chest.

If you have leukaemia, you might need more tests to check how your body is working generally. These could be:

  • An ultrasound or CT scan of the tummy (abdomen). This is to check if leukaemia is affecting other parts of your body such as your liver, spleen and kidneys.
  • An echocardiogram. This is an ultrasound of the heart to check how well your heart is working.

These may seem like lots of tests. But the tests give doctors important information that helps you get the best treatment.

Waiting for test results can be scary. But understanding more about tests can help you cope. It can also help to get support from your family and friends or your specialist nurse and doctor. You could also talk to a cancer support specialist on our free helpline.

We have more information about acute lymphoblastic leukaemia and acute myeloid leukaemia.

If you are looking for information about leukaemia in people of all ages, please see our general leukaemia section.

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