Leukaemia Diagnosis - How to Detect it through Blood Test?

Written by Hexahealth Care Team, last updated on 20 June 2023
Leukaemia Diagnosis - How to Detect it through Blood Test?

Leukaemia, a type of blood cancer, is a condition that requires timely and accurate diagnosis for effective treatment. The process of leukaemia diagnosis involves a comprehensive evaluation of various factors to determine the presence and type of leukaemia. 

This article will explore the intricacies of leukaemia diagnosis blood tests and shed light on the importance of early detection.

What is Leukaemia?

Leukaemia is a type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are produced. It arises when the immune system's white blood cells-responsible for battling infections—produces abnormally.

These abnormal cells, often referred to as leukaemia cells, are dysfunctional and can build up, interfering with the regular creation of healthy blood cells.

Leukaemia can develop in both children and adults, although certain types are more prevalent in specific age groups. The exact cause of leukaemia is often unknown, but it is believed to involve a combination of genetic and environmental factors. 

Leukaemia symptoms may vary based on the type and stage of the disease. Fatigue, recurrent infections, unexplained weight loss, easy bruising or bleeding, swollen lymph nodes, and bone or joint pain are among the symptoms that are frequently seen. 

It is crucial to remember that these symptoms might also be related to other illnesses. Thus, a thorough medical examination is required for a correct diagnosis.

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Importance of Early Diagnosis of Leukaemia

One of the most crucial aspects of leukaemia is how to detect leukaemia. Detecting leukaemia at its early stages enables both the patient and the healthcare provider to develop an in-depth knowledge of the presence of leukaemia, the progression of the disease, and the most effective treatment choice.

Here are some key reasons highlighting the importance of early diagnosis of leukaemia:

  1. Prompt Treatment Initiation: Early diagnosis enables prompt treatment beginning, which is crucial for effectively combating leukaemia. Early diagnosis and treatment can lessen side effects, slow the spread of cancer cells, and increase the likelihood of remission.

  2. Improved Treatment Options: Early leukaemia detection may allow for the adoption of less aggressive treatment modalities, such as chemotherapy or targeted therapies, which can be more efficient and have fewer adverse effects than advanced-stage medicines.

  3. Better Disease Management: When leukaemia is detected early, medical personnel may closely monitor its development and modify the treatment approach as needed. This proactive strategy enables improved disease management by reducing the possibility of complications and enhancing the patient's quality of life.

  4. Increased Survival Rates: According to studies, early leukaemia diagnosis is linked to better survival rates. Compared to cases discovered later, when the disease may have progressed to other parts of the body, patients have a better chance of establishing complete remission and long-term survival with early care.

  5. Enhanced Support and Care: Besides improving the patient's physical condition, early diagnosis enables quicker access to care and support resources. This also involves psychological support, counselling, and guidance to help patients and their families deal with the emotional and practical difficulties that come with a leukaemia diagnosis.

Role of Blood Tests in Leukaemia Diagnosis

Blood tests play a vital role in diagnosing leukaemia by evaluating various markers that can indicate the presence of the disease. These markers provide valuable information about the composition and function of the blood, helping healthcare professionals make an accurate diagnosis.

The blood tests help

  1. Provide information about the levels of different blood cell types, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. 

  2. Determines the proportions of different types of white blood cells in the blood.

  3. Assess the appearance, size, and shape of blood cells.

  4. Identify specific markers or proteins on the surface of blood cells. By assessing the presence or absence of these markers, healthcare professionals can determine the type of leukaemia and its stage.

  5. Identify specific genetic abnormalities associated with leukaemia.

Abnormalities in these markers can raise suspicion of leukaemia.

Types of Blood Tests for Leukaemia Diagnosis

Blood tests play an essential role in the diagnosis of not just leukaemia but also other health functions. The different types of leukaemia diagnosis and monitoring blood tests can make the health treatments progress in the right direction. The most commonly utilised tests are listed below:

  1. A Complete Blood Count (CBC): A CBC blood test reveals the amount and type of cells in your blood at any time. Leukaemia and its therapies, including chemotherapy and radiation, can impact the circulation of blood cell counts, making blood tests a must to analyse the exact condition.

    1. A CBC can aid in diagnosing leukaemia, monitor response to treatment, and establish whether the disease has metastasised (spread) to the bone marrow.

    2. A white cell differential, often known as a CBC plus differential, may be carried out with a complete blood count to assess the body's capacity to fight infections. 

    3. One can analyse the advancements in leukaemia symptoms that correlate with alterations to your blood.

  2. Differential White Blood Cell Counts: A white blood cell differential is typically included with the CBC. This test entails measuring the many varieties of white blood cells and evaluating the general appearance of blood cells and platelets. White blood cells are:

    1. Neutrophils are immune system cells that fight against bacterial and fungal infections.

    2. Basophils are a component of the immune response against bacteria and parasites.

    3. Eosinophils combat parasitic infections. 

    4. Monocytes, which eliminate foreign organisms and dead cells from the body.

    5. Lymphocytes, such as bone marrow and thymus cells, are the various immune system components.

  3. Blood Smear: If your CBC results are unclear or abnormal, a peripheral blood smear, commonly known as a smear or a manual differential (diff), might be advised. 

    1. A smeared drop of blood is studied under a microscope during a blood smear. 

    2. A professional examines the blood sample to see if it contains aberrant cells and if normal blood cells are in appropriate amounts.

    3. Cell numbers, size, or structural changes may indicate leukaemia. Another sign of leukaemia is the presence of immature white blood cells, often known as lymphoblasts or blasts.

  4. Minimal Residual Disease (MRD) Test: This relatively new test is used in blood malignancies to find cancer cells that may still be present following leukaemia therapy. 

    1. It can find as few as one malignant cells in a million healthy cells. 

    2. There are three basic ways to screen for minimally recurrent illness. The procedures used to diagnose different types of cancer can use blood or bone marrow samples.

  5. Flow Cytometry: A laser-driven technique, the primary purpose of flow cytometry is to detect and analyse the physical and chemical characteristics of the particles. 

    1. By identifying protein markers on the cell surface, flow cytometry may recognise cancer cells. 

    2. This test can detect one cancer cell out of 100,000 healthy cells. Results from flow cytometry are available quickly, frequently in less than a day. 

  6. Immunophenotyping: Immunophenotyping is another approach doctors use to determine the exact kind of leukaemia you have and the most effective treatments. 

    1. It is a type of flow cytometry test used to identify certain traits of leukaemia cells. 

    2. It primarily analyses the absence or presence of protein combinations and is one of the most effective leukaemia diagnosis blood tests.

  7. The Polymerase Chain Reaction: Both blood and bone marrow samples are acceptable for Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). 

    1. One cancer cell can be detected in 100,000 to 1,000,000 normal cells using a test for leukaemia-specific DNA. 

    2. Finding out the results of PCR leukaemia diagnostic tests can take a few weeks.

  8. Analysis of Blood Chemistry: The substances in the blood, such as proteins, hormones, vitamins, and electrolytes, are the subject of a blood chemistry analysis rather than blood cells. 

    1. Leukaemia severity and the health of several organs, including the liver and kidneys, can be determined by blood chemistry tests results. 

    2. The leukaemia diagnosis does not use these assays.

  9. Tests for Blood Coagulation: Hypercoagulability, or an increased tendency to clot, is a condition leukaemia patients may experience. Coagulation tests can be used, as the name implies, to check the health of the blood clotting process.

  10. Next-Generation Sequencing: The genetic material (DNA or RNA) of cells can be examined more quickly thanks to next-generation sequencing (NGS). 

    1. Typically, a bone marrow sample is needed for NGS. However, reading a blood sample for malignant DNA might be possible in rare circumstances. 

    2. NGS results might be available in a week. NGS tests have only been given FDA approval for use in B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (B-cell ALL) so far.

  11. Cytogenetic Evaluation: This is one of the best and the most reliable ways to predict the progression of the illness and the most effective course of treatment. 

    1. A test carried out to check the changes in the cells and their abnormalities has been known to be highly beneficial in detecting genetic problems and cancers. 

    2. Under this test, a patient sample is taken. This sample is analysed to understand the exact position and changes of the chromosomes.

    3. It is also helpful in tracking reactions to therapies and choosing the most effective treatment strategies.

  12. Karyotype Test: Using a karyotype test, it is possible to identify specific abnormalities in cancer cells by counting and examining their chromosomes. 

    1. Karyotyping offers additional information that can be used to develop a personalised therapy procedure and play an instrumental role in diagnosing leukaemia.

  13. Molecular Profiling: Biomarkers, or cancer signs, circulate in the blood of certain leukaemia patients. 

    1. These biomarkers can also determine the level of a person's response to their cancer therapies. 

    2. These biomarkers can be found through molecular profiling, which can also be utilised to create a highly individualised treatment strategy. 

    3. A sample of cells or tissues is taken from the patient and analysed under sequencing techniques. 

    4. The sequenced information is a potent leukaemia diagnostics test further interpreted in specific cancer problems.

  14. Hybridization In-Situ using Fluorescence: In blood or bone marrow samples, fluorescence in-situ hybridisation (FISH) can detect genetic alterations in blood cancer cells. 

    1. Using FISH during diagnosis may assist in determining the most effective course of action. 

    2. Every three to six months throughout treatment, FISH may be carried out to measure the efficacy of the therapy. 

    3. This process is carried out by taking a sample from the patient and analysing it under various processes to diagnose the problem.

  15. Assessment of Immunohistochemistry: With a combination of immunohistochemistry and genetic testing, healthcare providers can diagnose leukaemia better. 

    1. This test consists of antibodies used to detect and analyse antigens, foreign substances triggering an immunological reaction in the body.

Interpreting Leukaemia Blood Test Results

Your complete blood count can provide much information about leukaemia and your overall health. Regarding your CBC report, it's important to remember that different labs use slightly different reference ranges or sometimes different units. Your result will appear next to the established typical range for healthy people.

Age, sex, and factors such as pregnancy can affect these ranges. For example, the latest study shows that the total white blood cell count was elevated by 36% in pregnancy.

According to the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Society, healthy people have results that fit into the following ranges:

Red cells: per microliter of blood

White cells: per microliter of blood

Platelets: per microliter of blood

Hematocrit: per cent of blood composed of red cells

Haemoglobin: grams per deciliter


4.7 to 6.1 million

5,000 to 10,000

150,000 to 400,000

42 to 52

14 to 18


4.2 to 5.4 million

4,500 to 11,000

150,000 to 400,000

37 to 47

12 to 16


4.0 to 5.5 million

5,000 to 10,000

150,000 to 400,000

32 to 44

9.5 to 15

The white blood cell differential takes a closer look at your white blood cells and their percentage in your blood. Typical ranges are:

  1. Monocytes: 2 to 8 per cent

  2. Neutrophils: 55 to 70 per cent 

  3. Basophils: 0.5 to 1 per cent

  4. Lymphocytes: 20 to 40 per cent, but may be higher in children under age 4

  5. Band (Young) Neutrophil: 0 to 3 per cent

  6. Eosinophils: 1 to 4 per cent

Seeing the above test results will create a sense of worry and trouble among individuals. However, one needs to know that these test results are not always the diagnostic evaluation of leukaemia. 

In a lot of cases, these ranges can be indicative of other atypical developments in the body. These may include an infection or some immune disorder. Some atypical characteristics point toward a particular type of leukaemia. 

  1. For example, people with acute lymphocytic leukaemia usually have too many immature white blood cells called lymphoblasts, which aren't typically found in the blood. A shortage of red blood cells or platelets is also possible.

  2. People suffering from chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia may lack some blood cells but have too many monocytes and a high total white blood cell count.

Your healthcare professional will be able to elaborate on your results in detail and answer any questions.

Potential Issues with the Blood Test

Blood tests are one of the best and the most effective ways, with the help of which accurate leukaemia diagnosis can be made. Even though blood tests are standard, safe procedures, and consequences are typically minor, certain problems can surface. These may include potential issues:

  1. Several needle punctures if finding a vein is challenging 

  2. Temporary dizziness 

  3. Bruises or slight bleeding

  4. Swelling and pain

  5. Infection

Other Diagnostic Tests for Leukaemia Diagnosis

Leukaemia diagnostic tests play a key role in recognizing, managing, and controlling the problem. Depending on the type of leukaemia a person has been diagnosed with, the healthcare provider decides the course of treatment. Medical specialists use various tools to gather complex information about leukaemia for accurate diagnosis, including

  1. Physical Examination: During a physical exam, there will be a nursing diagnosis for leukaemia, and then haematologists will ask you about the following:

    1. Symptoms

    2. How long they've been happening

    3. Personal and family history of cancer

    4. Previous exposure to chemicals

    5. Whether you smoke or used to smoke

    6. Enlarged liver or spleen

    7. Pale skin

    8. Swollen lymph nodes

  1. Imaging Tests: The haematologist may suggest a type of imaging test to determine the existence and spread of leukaemia in the body. The tests can also detect infections or other problems. Imaging tests include

    1. X-ray

    2. Computed tomography (or CT)

    3. Magnetic resonance imaging (or MRI)

    4. Ultrasound

    5. Positron emission tomography (or PET)

  1. Bone Marrow Biopsy: Certain types of leukaemia stay confined to the bone marrow and can not be found in the blood. In such cases, the doctors advise a  bone marrow biopsy to check the presence of abnormal cells in the bone marrow where leukaemia starts.

  1. Spinal Tap (Lumbar Puncture): A spinal tap (lumbar puncture) is recommended to check the presence of leukaemia cancer cells that have reached the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) surrounding the brain and spinal cord in cases of certain kinds of leukaemia. 

    1. It may be done for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) patients and acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML) patients who exhibit any neurological signs pointing to their disease's spread.

When to See a Doctor for Leukaemia?

Consulting a doctor promptly is crucial if you experience any signs or symptoms that may suggest leukaemia. While these symptoms may not necessarily indicate leukaemia, it is important to have them evaluated by a healthcare professional. 

Here are some situations in which it is recommended to consult a doctor for further evaluation:

  1. Unexplained and persistent fatigue

  2. Frequent infections

  3. Unexplained bruising or bleeding

  4. Enlarged lymph nodes or spleen

  5. Bone or Joint Pain

  6. Unintended weight loss


In conclusion, blood tests play a vital role in the early detection and diagnosis of leukaemia. They provide valuable insights into the composition and function of blood cells, helping healthcare professionals identify abnormalities that may indicate leukaemia.

The specific blood tests used in leukaemia diagnosis include CBC, peripheral blood smear, bone marrow aspiration, and genetic testing. These tests help detect the condition in its early stage along with its type, stage and help in deciding the appropriate treatment plan. 

HexaHealth is a health and wellness-oriented platform dedicated to making all your medical journeys smooth and easy. If you are experiencing symptoms and signs and are not sure what it means, then you are sure to find the answer to all your confusion with us.

Just log on to the HexaHealth website and discover everything you need to know to start your journey towards health and well-being. To know more, get in touch with us. 

Suggested Reads,

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Leukaemia Medicines
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Bone Marrow Real Pictures
Bone Marrow Transplant
Bone Marrow Function
Bone Marrow Transplant Cost in Indi

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a blood test for Leukaemia diagnosis?

Blood Tests to Consider for leukaemia diagnosis:

  1. Complete Blood Count(CBC): Measures and evaluates red and white blood cells, platelets, haemoglobin, and hematocrit.

  2. White Blood Cell Differential: Evaluates overall appearance and different types of white blood cells.

  3. Flow Cytometry: Uses antibodies and laser beams to confirm leukaemia presence and identify the specific type.

What are some nursing diagnoses for leukaemia?

NANDA, an international nursing diagnosis for leukaemia, guides about imbalanced nutrition, infection risk, and fluid volume deficit. The diagnosis is made based on the cancer stage, chemo/transplant effects, and symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding, fever, and anorexia.

The outcomes and interventions are according to the patient's needs and condition.

What is leukaemia?

Leukaemia, often known as blood cancer, affects the body's blood-forming organs, such as the bone marrow and lymphatic system. There are numerous forms of leukaemia. Certain types of leukaemia are more frequent in youngsters. Other types of leukaemia typically affect adults.

What are the common symptoms of leukaemia?

Some of the most common leukaemia symptoms are:  

  1. Fever, chills

  2. Fatigue, weakness

  3. Frequent, severe infections

  4. Unexplained weight loss

  5. Night sweats

How is leukaemia diagnosed?

Before symptoms appear, doctors may detect persistent leukaemia in a routine blood test. If this occurs, or if you have signs or symptoms of leukaemia, you may be subjected to the following diagnostic tests:  

  1. Physical Exam: The doctor checks for signs like pale skin, lymph node swelling, and enlarged liver/spleen. 
  2. Blood Tests: Abnormal red/white blood cell levels or platelets may indicate leukaemia. Leukaemia cells can sometimes be found in the blood but may also stay in the bone marrow. 
  3. Bone Marrow Test: A needle takes a sample from the hipbone. Lab analysis detects leukaemia cells and determines treatment options based on their characteristics.

What is the diagnostic evaluation of leukaemia in a child?

To diagnose leukaemia, multiple tests are needed. Your doctor will do a physical test and examine your child's blood sample under a microscope. If abnormal white blood cell count and low healthy blood cell count are found, further tests like bone marrow biopsy and spinal tap may be conducted to confirm the diagnosis.

How to detect leukaemia in its early stages?

Finding cancer at early stages makes it easier to treat many types of cancer. Healthcare providers recommend screening tests to diagnose some cancers early in patients with no symptoms.

However, no particular tests are now advised to detect leukaemia early. The easiest strategy to detect leukaemia early is immediately reporting any symptoms to a doctor.

What are the specific blood tests used to detect leukaemia?

Blood Tests are Vital for diagnosing leukaemia, especially chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. Bone Marrow Tests usually follow blood tests to confirm diagnoses like acute lymphocytic leukaemia. Specific blood tests are:

  1. Complete Blood Count (CBC): Measures red and white blood cells and platelets. 

  2. Differential Test: Analyzes different types of white blood cells in the blood.   

  3. Peripheral Blood Smear: Involves microscopic analysis of blood cells to detect leukaemia-related changes.

How accurate are blood tests in diagnosing leukaemia?

Blood counts provide valuable insights into leukaemia and overall health. Labs may have varying reference ranges. Factors like age, sex, and pregnancy can influence these ranges. Results are often compared to the typical range for healthy individuals.

Don't worry if a flag indicates a result outside the range; it doesn't necessarily mean leukaemia. Other factors like infections or immune disorders can cause atypical results. Trust your healthcare professional to interpret the report accurately.

Can a blood test alone confirm a diagnosis of leukaemia?

Blood tests alone are not just used to confirm a diagnosis of leukaemia. They are also performed throughout therapy to give your doctors a better assessment of how your body is functioning and responding to treatment.

Are there any specific markers or abnormalities in the blood that indicate leukaemia?

The white blood cell differential examines your white blood cells and their percentage in your blood. The following are typical ranges:

  1. Neutrophils: 55 to 70%

  2. Lymphocytes: 20 to 40% (higher in children under 4)

  3. Monocytes: 2 to 8%

  4. Eosinophils: 1 to 4%

  5. Basophils: 0.5 to 1%

  6. Band Neutrophil: 0 to 3%

Note: Results outside the range don't necessarily indicate leukaemia. Other factors like infections or immune disorders can cause atypical results.

What does leukaemia look like on a blood test?

If you have leukaemia, your blood cell count will likely reveal elevated white blood cells containing leukemic cells. Red blood cell and platelet cell levels may also be lower than usual. Pancytopenia occurs when all three kinds are low.

What other diagnostic tests are typically performed alongside blood tests for leukaemia?

Doctors often utilize blood testing with other medical tests to diagnose leukaemia. These include: 

  1. Cytochemistry test

  2. Imaging tests

  3. MRI

  4. Chest X-Ray

  5. CT scan, etc

How much time does it take place to get blood test results for leukaemia?

Your doctor may request a blood sample via finger prick or a blood draw, often performed by putting a needle into a vein, most commonly in the inner elbow. This blood is then transported to a laboratory for examination, which can take several days to get results.

A haematologist (a blood specialist) may urge you to fast for a specified period before your blood test. The frequency of your blood tests is decided by the purpose of the sample and your doctor's advice.

Are there any risks or side effects associated with blood tests for leukaemia?

Blood tests are common and safe, with most problems being minor. These are some examples:

  1. Numerous needle punctures if a vein cannot be found temporarily 

  2. Lightheadedness

  3. Bruises

  4. Mild bleeding

  5. Oedema

  6. Discomfort

  7. Infection

Can a blood test detect all types of leukaemia?

Your doctor can tell if you have leukaemia by looking at a blood sample to see if you have odd numbers of red or white blood cells or platelets.

A blood test can also detect leukaemia cells, albeit not all kinds of leukaemia cause them to circulate in the blood. Leukaemia cells can sometimes remain in the bone marrow.

Can leukaemia be present even if blood test results are normal?

Leukaemia can be present even if blood test results appear normal. Sometimes, leukaemia doesn't exhibit obvious abnormalities in routine tests.

It's crucial to be mindful of other symptoms and seek additional tests such as bone marrow tests.

Are there any alternative or supplementary tests for leukaemia diagnosis?

Leukaemia, a cancer affecting blood and bone marrow, is detected through blood tests that reveal abnormal blood cells. Additional imaging tests or biopsies can help confirm the diagnosis and assess its severity.

If you notice any symptoms, seek medical attention promptly, and undergoing a blood test for timely diagnosis and treatment is crucial.

What should I do if my blood test results suggest leukaemia?

Additional bone marrow testing can confirm the diagnosis of leukaemia detected by blood tests. Bone marrow and genetic testing can also determine the type of leukaemia you have so that treatment can begin. 

Discuss your leukaemia, treatment choices, and prognosis with your doctor. Request precise information on your specific type of leukaemia from your doctor to save time and focus your research. This will help you narrow your search and locate relevant and accurate resources.

Can a blood test differentiate between different stages or subtypes of leukaemia?

Each of the four types of leukaemia has its staging system. Doctors can use a complete blood count and tissue biopsy to establish the kind and stage of leukaemia. An organ biopsy may assist doctors in determining whether the malignancy has spread.

When you are diagnosed with leukaemia cancer, you will usually learn what "stage" the disease is in. For most cancers, this stage is determined by tumour growth and development.

How often should blood tests be conducted for leukaemia monitoring?

If you have leukaemia, you will have regular blood tests before each therapy cycle to monitor the count of various kinds of blood cells in your body, look for markers of cancer activity and evaluate substances in your body that suggest overall health and organ performance.

Can a blood test predict the prognosis or response to treatment for leukaemia?

Leukaemia and its therapies, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, can have various effects on circulating blood cell counts.

A CBC can be helpful in helping diagnose leukaemia, monitoring treatment progress, and detecting whether the disease has progressed (metastasized) to the bone marrow.

Are any specific precautions or preparations needed before a blood test for leukaemia?

Before a blood test, common preparations include:

1. Dietary Restrictions: Avoid cooked meats, herbal tea, and alcohol.

2. Moderation: Do not overeat the day before the test.

3. No Smoking: Refrain from smoking.

4. Physical Restraint: Avoid strenuous exercise and sexual activity.

5. Medication Awareness: Discuss your current medications, including over-the-counter items, with your healthcare provider.

6. Hydration Instructions: Some blood tests may require increased water intake before the test or specific urine tests.

How expensive are blood tests for leukaemia?

A complete blood count, or CBC testing, is a simple blood test widely used to diagnose several types of disorders in the body. A CBC determines whether or not the blood cell count has increased or decreased. The average cost of CBC in India is between Rs 150 to Rs 500.

Are there any age limitations for undergoing a blood test for leukaemia?

Age is not a consideration in obtaining a blood test to identify leukaemia. While some varieties of leukaemia do not result in the presence of leukaemia cells in the blood, a blood test can reveal abnormal amounts of red blood cells(RBC) or white blood cells, or platelets, which may indicate leukaemia. 

A Complete blood test, on the other hand, is insufficient for diagnosing leukaemia. A bone marrow test is frequently needed to confirm the diagnosis and decide the type of leukaemia.

Can a blood test monitor remission or relapse in leukaemia patients?

Remission in AML is defined as bone marrow with less than 5% leukaemia blasts, normal blood cell counts, and absence of symptoms.

Factors influencing remission include AML type, age, health conditions, treatment response, and genetic changes.

Blood tests can indicate complete molecular remission, but sensitive tests may detect residual leukaemia cells.

The presence of residual disease increases the risk of relapse, necessitating additional treatment.

What other medical conditions mimic the symptoms of leukaemia?

Leukaemia is often mistaken for conditions like influenza, fever, fractures, bleeding disorders, immune thrombocytopenic purpura, trypanosomiasis, autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome, and certain viral infections or joint diseases.

Some children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia may experience fever symptoms and bone/joint pain with normal complete blood count (CBC).

How can a blood test help differentiate leukaemia from other medical conditions?

A blood differential test is frequently performed as part of a general physical examination. Because the five types of white blood cells perform various functions, testing them

independently can provide crucial information to your healthcare physician. The test can also help in the diagnosis of a number of medical disorders, including

  1. Infections

  2. Autoimmune conditions

  3. Inflammatory conditions

  4. Other kinds of cancer, such as leukaemia

Is a bone marrow biopsy always necessary alongside a blood test for leukaemia diagnosis?

If your doctor suspects you have leukaemia, he or she will examine blood and bone marrow samples to be sure. Other tissue and cell samples may be collected to aid in therapy planning.

Blood tests are usually the initial step in the search for leukaemia. Blood is drawn from an arm vein. Because leukaemia begins in the bone marrow, looking for leukaemia cells in the bone marrow is an important element of testing for it.

So, bone marrow biopsies are used to diagnose leukaemia accurately.


All the articles on HexaHealth are supported by verified medically-recognized sources such as; peer-reviewed academic research papers, research institutions, and medical journals. Our medical reviewers also check references of the articles to prioritize accuracy and relevance. Refer to our detailed editorial policy for more information.

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  2. Minimal Residual Disease (MRD): Testing, Results & More [Internet]. Healthline. 2022.link
  3. Blood Work | How This Provides Clues On Your Health | LLC [Internet]. www.lls.org. [cited 2023 Jun 20].link
  4. How to Read Your Leukemia Test Results [Internet]. Healthline. 2022.link
  5. Pennmedicine.org. 2023. link
  6. ALL leukemia diagnosis, tests, symptoms, and more [Internet]. www.medicalnewstoday.com. 2023 [cited 2023 Jun 20].link
  7. Diagnosing Leukemia [Internet]. Yale Medicine.link

Updated on : 20 June 2023


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HexaHealth Care Team

HexaHealth Care Team brings you medical content covering many important conditions, procedures falling under different medical specialities. The content published is thoroughly reviewed by our panel of qualified doctors for its accuracy and relevance.

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