Leukaemias are cancers of the white blood cells, which begin in the bone marrow.

Leukaemias are grouped in two ways: Acute leukaemia appears suddenly and grows quickly while chronic leukaemia appears gradually and develops slowly over months to years.

There are four types of leukaemia; acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), acute myeloid leukaemia (AML), chronic lymphoblastic leukaemia (CLL) and chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

Many people with leukaemia have no symptoms. The symptoms tend to be mild at first and worsen slowly.

The main symptoms include:

  • tiredness and/or anaemia (pale complexion, weakness and breathlessness)
  • repeated infections (mouth sores, sore throat, fevers, sweats, coughing, frequent passing of urine with irritation, infected cuts and scratches, and boils)
  • increased bruising and bleeding.

Other less common symptoms include:

  • bone pain
  • swollen tender gums
  • skin rashes
  • headaches
  • vision problems
  • vomiting
  • enlarged lymph glands
  • enlarged spleen that may cause pain or discomfort
  • chest pains.

For more information and local support services, go to:

Cancer Council Australia

Leukaemia Foundation

Fact sheets