Blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, can be insidious, often presenting with subtle symptoms that are easy to overlook. Early detection is crucial for effective treatment and better outcomes. Here are some early symptoms of blood cancer you shouldn’t ignore:

1. Unexplained Fatigue and Weakness

Feeling unusually tired or weak, even after a full night’s sleep, can be a sign of blood cancer. This fatigue is often persistent and not relieved by rest. It’s caused by the cancer cells crowding out healthy blood cells, leading to anemia and reduced oxygen supply to the body.

2. Frequent Infections

Blood cancers can compromise the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. Frequent or recurrent infections, such as colds, sinus infections, or respiratory infections, can be an early warning sign. These infections may also be more severe and harder to recover from than usual.

3. Fever and Night Sweats

Unexplained fevers that come and go, often accompanied by night sweats, can be a symptom of blood cancer. These fevers are typically low-grade and may not always be linked to an obvious infection.

4. Unexplained Weight Loss

Losing weight without trying, especially if it’s significant (more than 10% of your body weight in six months), can be a red flag. This weight loss is often accompanied by a loss of appetite.

5. Swollen Lymph Nodes

Lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, armpits, or groin, may become swollen and tender. Swollen lymph nodes are a common symptom of lymphoma, but they can also be present in leukemia. These nodes may be painless or only slightly tender.

6. Easy Bruising or Bleeding

Experiencing easy bruising or bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or small red or purple spots on the skin (petechiae), can indicate a low platelet count. Blood cancers can interfere with the production of platelets, which are essential for blood clotting.

7. Bone Pain

Persistent bone pain, especially in the back, ribs, or hips, can be an early symptom of blood cancers like myeloma. This pain may be dull or sharp and is often worse at night or with movement.

8. Abdominal Discomfort or Swelling

An enlarged spleen or liver, often due to blood cancer, can cause discomfort or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen. You might also notice swelling or a mass in the upper left side of the abdomen.

9. Shortness of Breath

Experiencing shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, particularly with physical activity, can be a symptom of anemia caused by blood cancer. It can also result from fluid buildup in the lungs due to cancer spread.

10. Persistent Itching

Unexplained, persistent itching all over the body can be a symptom of blood cancer, particularly lymphoma. This itching can be severe and not relieved by typical treatments.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience any of these symptoms persistently or notice a combination of them, it’s important to seek medical advice. While these symptoms can be related to various benign conditions, it’s crucial to rule out blood cancer, especially if they persist or worsen over time.


Early detection of blood cancer can significantly improve treatment outcomes. Pay attention to your body and don’t ignore persistent, unexplained symptoms. If you have concerns, consult with a healthcare professional who can conduct appropriate tests and provide a diagnosis. Staying informed and proactive about your health is the first step towards early intervention and effective management of blood cancer.

By Sue