Along with a physical exam, many tests and medical exams are used to diagnose leukemia:
- Physical exam – this is a simple exam during which your physician will search in your body signs and symptoms of leukemia: pinprick bleeds, bruises, skin paleness (due to anemia), swollen lymph nodes, etc.
- Blood tests – your doctor may take your blood sample for laboratory analysis. In general, a high concentration of immature white blood cells and an abnormally low number of red blood cells and platelets is an indication of leukemia.
- Immunophenotype – this test is a powerful tool in the diagnosis and monitoring of most hematological malignancies such as lymphoblastic leukemia and myeloblastic leukemia. It helps to discover not only leukemia cells, but also to differentiate chronic lymphocytic leukemia cells from other types of leukemia and lymphoma.
- Cytogenetic analysis – this cytogenetic exam is a study of genetic phenomena in the chromosomes in order to detect Philadelphia chromosome. In some rare cases, however, the Philadelphia chromosome is not present although there is leukemia. The most common techniques of cytogenetic analysis include karyotype analysis, Fluorescent In-Situ Hybridization (FISH), and DNA microarray analysis (DNA chip).
- Bone marrow biopsy – your doctor can recommend a bone marrow biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and determine the type of leukemia you have. In general, the specialist will use a needle to withdraw marrow sample and then analyze it under a microscope to look for leukemia cells.