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Leukemia-like symptoms responding well to steroids

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Old 07-26-2011, 12:13 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Posts: 2
tjguitarz HB User
Leukemia-like symptoms responding well to steroids

Good afternoon everyone,

My father has a list of symptoms that sound similar to both leukemia and mononucleosis. With my understanding, only mono explains the symptoms, but tests ruled it out. I would be very interested in your ideas of how, why, and what is going on.

Fatigue (worsening over the past 6 months, to the point of only being able to stay awake a few hours at a time)
Canker sores of the throat
Loss of appetite, only partially attributable to the canker sores
Some of his blood counts were off, but his primary care physician said nothing was very alarming. If I remember correctly, there were elevated leukocytes.
Hematologist noted very few smudge cells in the blood. Performed a bone marrow biopsy yesterday, with results being delivered next week.

He went on a steroid for his throat and began feeling better. Two weeks later, he is feeling great and his appetite is back. He said for the first time in months, "that I got a really good night's sleep."

I understand that steroids are prescribed to fight viral infections, and given how well my dad responded to them, I suspected it to be a virus. However, the doctor noted the smudge cells and mentioned leukemia, and now my mom is panicking. I tried to reassure her that smudge cells could be found in some viral infections, like mononucleosis, but that test came back negative. I am a scientist, dang it, and I hate not understanding what is going on. I would really appreciate any ideas or explanations.

Thanks for your time,


Other possible relevant details: He's been under a lot of stress at work as the symptoms worsened. There is no family history of cancer sans a few spots of skin cancer removed by a dermatologist. He had a heart attack in Sept 2008 and under his doctor's guidance, discontinued all medications but plavix due to these worsening symptoms. He only drinks a glass of wine a day, smokes a cigar with his brothers a few times a year. He was a heavy smoker for a decade but quit over 25 years ago. He takes a lot of vitamins. He goes on long walks 3 times a week. He eats relatively healthy.

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Old 07-28-2011, 03:29 PM   #2
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Posts: 2
tjguitarz HB User
Re: Leukemia-like symptoms responding well to steroids

Results are in. It is AML M4. Thanks to anyone who took a look.

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