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Leukemia is most often diagnosed through a diagnostic test called a complete blood count (CBC). If a patient’s CBC shows abnormal levels of white blood cells or abnormally low red blood cells or platelets, he or she has leukemia. The physician will then order a bone marrow biopsy to determine the type of leukemia. However, running a CBC is not the only way a physician can arrive at a leukemia diagnosis for his or her patient. That’s because many chronic forms of leukemia, including chronic myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia, develop gradually and don’t cause noticeable initial symptoms.

In many instances, leukemia cells perform almost as well as normal, healthy white blood cells, making diagnosis difficult. Aside from blood work, other early diagnostic methods for leukemia include:

  • A physical exam that might include the identification of swollen lymph nodes or pale skin from anemia
  • A bone marrow test that can confirm the presence of leukemia cells.

Moffitt Cancer Center’s Approach to Leukemia Diagnosis

At Moffitt Cancer Center, the leukemia team within the Malignant Hematology Program uses many advanced strategies to not only identify leukemia, but also pinpoint the extent, or stage, of the disease. Some of the diagnostic services that we use in our leukemia program include:

  • Lumbar puncture
  • Flow cytometry
  • Cytogenetics
  • Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
  • Fluorescent in situ hybridization
  • Hematopathology consultation
  • Minimal residual disease assessment
  • Molecular diagnostics

Depending on your specific leukemia diagnosis, different approaches to treatment may be considered. However, you can be certain that at Moffitt Cancer Center, you will receive the most thorough, advanced treatment available, no matter the type or stage of your leukemia. In addition to providing standard leukemia treatments, we are also leading the way in research, conducting many ongoing leukemia clinic trials, uncovering new treatments and learning more about the cancer every single day. Because of our robust clinical trials program and commitment to research, the National Cancer Institute has designated Moffitt as a Comprehensive Cancer Center – the only such center based in Florida.

To learn more about leukemia diagnosis and the many treatments we offer, contact Moffitt Cancer Center by calling 1-888-663-3488 or using our new patient registration form online. You never need a referral to visit Moffitt.