Signs and symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

The main symptoms of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) are caused by having too many blast cells in the bone marrow and too few normal blood cells in your blood.

They may include:

  • looking very pale, feeling very tired or becoming breathless easily, caused by a lack of red blood cells (anaemia)
  • feeling generally unwell and run-down, perhaps with a sore throat or mouth
  • painful joints and bones
  • having various infections one after the other, caused by a lack of healthy white blood cells
  • unusual bleeding, because of too few platelets, including bruising without any obvious cause, heavy periods in women, bleeding gums and frequent nosebleeds
  • frequent headaches.

Occasionally, leukaemia is discovered during a routine blood test before symptoms develop.

Symptoms may appear very quickly over a few weeks. If you have any of these symptoms you should have them checked by your doctor, but remember they are common to many illnesses other than leukaemia.

Back to Understanding acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)

About the blood

To understand what leukaemia is, it helps to know a bit about the blood.