How can we diagnose Leukemia?
- To find the cause of a person's symptoms, patient's medical history is taken and a physical examination is done. In addition to checking of general signs of health, swelling in the liver; the spleen; and the lymph nodes under the arms, in the groin, and in the neck must be done.
- Blood tests also help in the diagnosis. Blood examination shows increased amount of white blood cells . Appearance of blast cells (primitive form of white blood cells before they mature) is also diagnosed. Although blood tests may reveal that a patient has leukemia, they may not show the type of leukemia.
Bone marrow sampling:
To check further for leukemia cells or to tell what type of leukemia a patient has, a hematologist, oncologist, or pathologist examines a sample of bone marrow under a microscope. The doctor withdraws the sample by inserting a needle into a large bone (usually the hip) and removing a small amount of liquid bone marrow. This procedure is called bone marrow aspiration. A bone marrow biopsy is performed with a larger needle and removes a small piece of bone and bone marrow.
If leukemia cells are found in the bone marrow sample, the patient's doctor orders other tests to find out the extent of the disease. A spinal tap (lumbar puncture) checks for leukemia cells in the fluid that fills the spaces in and around the brain and spinal cord (cerebrospinal fluid). Chest x-rays can reveal signs of disease in the chest