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Leukaemia fatigue symptoms

What is fatigue? 

Fatigue is by far the most common symptom experienced by leukaemia patients prior to their diagnosis. We know that 56% of leukaemia patients will experience fatigue in the lead-up to their diagnosis. Knowing the leukaemia fatigue symptoms to be aware of is key to early diagnosis.

Spotting leukaemia-related fatigue symptoms

Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness that results from mental or physical exertion, or illness.  Everyone will experience fatigue at some point as it is simply the body’s natural way of showing that rest is needed. However, exhaustion that lasts for prolonged periods of time is not normal.

Cancer-related fatigue (CRF) is different from the fatigue of daily life. It is more severe and is often described as an overwhelming exhaustion that cannot be overcome with a good night’s rest. Some people may also describe it as constantly feeling physically weak, drained or have difficulty concentrating (“brain fog”).

Below are some signs of cancer-related fatigue that you should pay close attention to. If more than one of the following symptoms apply to you, we recommend visiting your GP.

  • Weakness or tiredness that lasts for longer than 2 weeks

  • Weakness or tiredness accompanied by a loss of weight

  • Tiredness that remains even after rest or sleep, it keeps coming back, or is getting worse.

  • You are continually finding yourself more tired than usual or breathless during or after an activity.

  • You’re spending extra time in bed and/or sleeping for unusual amounts of time.

  • You are finding it significant difficulty to concentrate and becoming confused more easily.

  • You have also noticed other symptoms of leukaemia or anaemia

I'm experiencing fatigue - what do I do? 

If you are experiencing fatigue, you need to contact your GP and ask for a blood test. It might not be leukaemia but it could be something else so it's important you get it checked out. 

Screenshot this 👇

Co-Branded Spot Leukaemia Graphic.jpg

Screenshot the above graphic and take it to your GP to show them that fatigue 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 persistent tiredness (fatigue). 

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?

It is important to remember that many different things can cause fatigue, and more commonly it can be explained by lack of sleep, long hours at work, hormone imbalances, anxiety, depression or dietary deficiencies. However, for this reason, leukaemia can be hard to spot because the signs and symptoms are common to other unrelated problems. As a general rule, if your level of tiredness is affecting your ability to function properly and is persisting for an unusual length of time, visit your GP to gain professional opinion and rule out any underlying problem.

Knowing what other symptoms are typical of leukaemia is crucial for helping you make the decision to visit your GP sooner for a blood test.  Connect the dots between the symptoms of leukaemia and spot leukaemia sooner.

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