Bruising due to leukaemia
Is bruising a symptom of leukaemia?
Bruising is one of the most common symptoms associated with a leukaemia diagnosis. According to Leukaemia Care's 2018 patient survey, “Living with Leukaemia”, frequent bruising and bleeding precedes a diagnosis of leukaemia in 24% of patients.
Bruising is defined as bleeding that occurs underneath the skin, causing black, blue or purple marks to visibly appear on the skin’s surface. Most of the time there is no reason to worry about bruising as it is the body’s natural response to injury. However, because bruising due to leukaemia is very similar in appearance to ordinary bruising, it can be too easily dismissed as harmless.
The manner in which you get bruises and how long they last can be a tell-tale sign of leukaemia and may be a reason for you to book an appointment with you doctor. Spotting the difference between harmless and harmful bruising may be key in diagnosing leukaemia early.
How to spot bruising due to leukaemia
Although bruises from leukaemia are very similar to ordinary bruises, there are a few things you can look out for to help spot the difference:
They occur in unusual places – In cases of leukaemia, quite often bruises will appear in places that you wouldn’t normally expect, especially; the back, legs, and hands.
There are lots of them – It is not unusual to have a few bruises on your body at once, especially if you are an active person. However, multiple bruises without explanation is a reason for concern.
You can’t explain why they are there – The bruises may appear without any clear reason. In other words, bruising without damage to that part of the body. They might also develop after very slight knocks that wouldn’t normally cause a bruise.
They take longer than usual to disappear – Bruises may last for longer than you would expect or might continue to grow in size. A normal bruise tends to heal after around two to four weeks. Therefore, if a bruise lasts for more than four weeks, we recommend getting it checked by your GP.
You have been experiencing excess bleeding – Since bruising is a form of bleeding (it’s just underneath the skin), unusual bleeding from other areas of the body can also be a sign of leukaemia (e.g. heavy periods, frequent nosebleeds or bleeding gums).
If you are experiencing unexplained bruising that doesn't go away, contact your GP and ask for a blood test.
Screenshot this 👇
Screenshot the above graphic and take it to your GP to show them that bruising or bleeding is a symptom of leukaemia.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines. NG12 states that you are required to have an urgent blood test (within 48 hours) if you are presenting with any of the leukaemia symptoms including unexplained bruising.
Alternatively, you can screenshot the above graphic and share it on social media to help raise awareness of the symptoms. Early diagnosis saves lives.
When should I be concerned?
If you start noticing bruising or rashes on your body, there is no need for immediate concern. In most cases, the cause will not be serious. However, it is for this exact reason that leukaemia can be hard to spot, as the signs and symptoms are so easily confused for more common illnesses. If your bruises occur frequently or are not disappearing, you should contact your doctor immediately and ask for a blood test.
Knowing what other symptoms are typical of leukaemia is crucial for helping you to make the decision to visit your GP sooner for a blood test. Connect the dots between the symptoms of leukaemia and spot leukaemia sooner.