Leukemia Rashes, Infections, and Bruises

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1. Petechiae

Leukemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood cells and bone marrow, a tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.

When someone has this disease, the cells normally produced in the bone marrow, such as white blood cells, which fight infection; red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body; and platelets, which help form blood clots, will be crowded out by abnormal leukemia cells.

In addition to symptoms like nausea, fever, fatigue, weight loss, and infections, leukemia can also produce a variety of skin conditions such as bruising, rashes, and bleeding.

“We see a few major categories of skin findings in patients with leukemia,” says Amy Forrestel, MD, director of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania. “The most common skin condition is bleeding into the skin.”

In other cases, some have no skin conditions, Dr. Forrestel says. “It depends on the type of leukemia. The more aggressive ones that require stem cell therapy or chemotherapy almost always have skin findings.”

Related: Speaking Cancer: A Glossary of Formal and Informal Terms Used to Describe Cancer Tests, Treatment, Patients, and More

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