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Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are common to other, less serious illnesses. However, if your child is troubled by any of the symptoms below, see the pediatrician.

It is common for children with AML to feel a loss of well-being because of the underproduction of normal bone marrow cells. Symptoms of a low red blood cell count (called “anemia”) include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath during normal physical activities
  • Lightheadedness, dizziness or faintness
  • Headaches
  • Pale complexion

Symptoms of a low white blood cell count (called “neutropenia”) include:

  • Frequent infections
  • Recurrent fevers

Symptoms of a low platelet count (called “thrombocytopenia”) include:

  • Bruising easily
  • Pinhead-sized red spots on the skin, called “petechiae”
  • Bleeding that is hard to stop, even from a small cut
  • Frequent or severe nosebleeds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Heavier or more frequent menstrual periods (in females)

Other general symptoms of AML include:

  • Unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite
  • Swollen glands
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Enlarged spleen or liver

In rare instances, a tumor made up of AML cells forms outside the bone marrow. This type of tumor, called a “myeloid sarcoma,” can form in almost any part of the body.


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