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Enlarged Spleen From Leukemia


An enlarged spleen from leukemia could also be associated with lymphomas, other lymphoproliferative disorders and severe infections such as Epstein Barr virus (= mononucleosis) where the spleen can be enlarged to several times the normal size.

This enlargement of the spleen is medically called ” splenomegaly “. The spleen removes red blood cells that are older than 120 days and also old platelets.

The balance can tip and a condition of ” hypersplenism” can develop, where one or more of the blood cell types are filtered out by the spleen: red blood cells (causing anemia), white blood cells (causing leukopenia) or platelets (causing thrombocytopenia). This condition calls for a referral to a hematologist to sort out the cause behind this condition and to treat it.

Symptoms of an enlarged spleen from leukemia

The symptoms can be quite varied depending on the underlying cause of the hypersplenism. If there is a leukemia as the underlying cause, then there would be weight loss and weakness with a high blood cell count, but missing platelets and red blood cells in the blood tests.

With a connective tissue disease such as lupus(=systemic lupus erythematosus) there would be joint involvement and possible skin lesions as well as typical blood titres (positive ANA titre). In all of the diseases with an enlarged spleen there would be left upper abdominal pain and breathing problems with the left lung may be labored due to the diaphragm finding it hard to move against the massive spleen. With thrombocytopenia pin point bleeding of the skin is common(=petechial bleeding). With low white blood cell counts (leukopenia) there is a danger of infections. Anemia presents as tiredness, lack of energy, increased infection rates and delayed wound healing. With cirrhosis of the liver, where the spleen can get congested (=congested splenomegaly), there is an increased risk for bleeding from esophageal varices.

Treatment for an enlarged spleen from leukemia

The physician treats thee patient with an enlarged spleen from leukemia in an individualized manner. Treatment is directed against the underlying cause and against the symptoms of hypersplenism. A hematologist should be part of  the treatment, which includes the bone marrow and not only the spleen. One of the problems can be a ruptured spleen (see above).


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Last modified: August 27, 2018

This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.