blood cancer

Blood Cancer, its symptoms, causes and treatment

Dr. Abdullah
27 Oct 2018
 4.51 Vote(s)
Visits: 10822

Blood Cancer is caused when the development of normal blood cells is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cell. These cancerous cells prevent normal cells from functioning and make the body more subjective to infections. Through this article get yourself familiar with blood cancer types, causes and treatment.

Blood has different type of functions, so it is made up of different cell types such as red blood cells for carrying oxygen, white blood cells that fight germs and infections in the body and platelets rich plasma to help blood clotting. Originating from stem cells, they work differently and have the potential to convert them into any type of blood cell as they divide and mature in the later stages.

Blood cancer is actually the abnormality in the blood cells where they produce large numbers of immature blood cells that are not able to protect the body from any kind of infections. When a person is suffering from blood cancer, the leukemia cells outnumber the normal blood cells and clog up your bone marrow. In this process, it prevents other types of blood cells from functioning properly; moreover, they can lead to serious problems such as anaemia, bleeding and other such infections. This article helps you know more about the symptoms, causes and treatments for blood cancer.

Blood Cancer Symptoms

  • Excessive weight loss
  • Frequent fever, fatigue and malaise
  • Getting tired very easily and weakness of the body
  • Loss of appetite and nausea
  • Sweating at night 
  • Frequent pain in the joints and bone fractures
  • Abdominal discomfort, back pain
  • Headaches and shortness of breath
  • Red spots and rashes on the skin 
  • Recurrent infections
  • Frequent vomiting sensations
  • Lymph node (gland) enlargement in the neck, underarms, groin
  • Lumps or abdominal distension due to enlarged abdominal organs
  • Delirium and confusion
  • Abnormal bleeding in the gums, nose and cuts
  • Visual defects
  • Difficulty while urinating

What Causes Blood Cancer?

Blood cancers are mostly caused due to changes in DNA. When healthy blood cells are replaced by cancerous cells, they disturb normal cycle of blood flow in a body. However, certain other factors may also contribute to blood cancer such as :

  • Age, sex, ethnicity
  • Family history
  • Lifestyle, radiation or chemical exposure
  • HIV infection
  • Environment, health conditions and treatments

Types of Blood Cancer

Blood cancers are classified into three groups, namely :

Leukemia

Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that mainly affects white blood cells and bone marrow. These cells multiply themselves rapidly and often do not mature properly, which compromises immune system and its ability to fight any foreign body. This type of blood cancer is prevalent in blood and bone marrow caused due to rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. These abnormal cells do not have the potential to fight infection, thereby making the body more vulnerable to all kinds of sickness and infections. They cause mutation in the functioning of the normal cells and impair the ability of bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets.

There are many types of leukemia, which can be either acute or chronic based on how they behave. Acute leukemia multiplies very quickly and needs a treatment instantly. Chronic leukemia usually progresses very slowly and intensive treatment may not be needed straight away.

There are four main types of leukaemia namely :                                                                                                           

  • Acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL)
  • Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is another type of blood cancer that affects lymphatic system, which is an important part of immune system. The lymphatic system plays an important role of producing and transporting white blood cells in a body. It helps in removing waste products and fluids from blood. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cells that help the body to fight infection and other diseases.

When lymphocytes become abnormal, they multiply rapidly and collect in your lymph nodes and other tissues, thereby impairing your immune system. Lymphoma cells can develop in many parts of body such as lymph nodes, spleen, blood, bone marrow and other organs.

There are two main types of lymphoma namely:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Hodgkin lymphoma

Lymphoma

Myeloma 

Myeloma (also referred to as multiple myeloma) is a blood cancer that mainly affects white blood cells, also called as plasma cells. Since these cells are produced in bone marrow, they protect the body from infections by producing antibodies. When myeloma cells are produced, they obstruct normal production of antibodies, thereby weakening immune system and making the body more susceptible to infection.

Myeloma

Treatment of Blood Cancer

Treatment of blood cancer can be complex; however, with the advancement of technology blood cancer treatment is readily available and evolving today. According to recent research, the remission and survival rates have been showing an upward trend. Researchers are making great strides in treatment and diagnosis of blood cancer. With the latest advances in chemotherapy and radiation, they have identified specific gene mutation that can be targeted for safe and efficient recovery provided the treatment be taken in the initial phase.

If a person is suspicious of having a type of blood cancer, several tests can rule some of the general symptoms of the cancer.

Some common Blood cancer treatment & therapy options include:

Stem cell transplantation:

Stem cell transplantation is an advanced medical treatment for blood cancer for patients with various stages and types of hematologic diseases including Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma and leukemia. A stem cell transplant is a process where healthy blood-forming stem cells are infused into the body in order to stimulate new bone marrow growth, reduce the possibility of a relapse and suppress the disease. Stem cells are mostly infused in bone marrow, circulating blood (peripheral blood stem cells), and umbilical cord blood.

Chemotherapy:

Chemotherapy is another kind of treatment that uses anticancer drugs designed to slow or interfere the growth of rapidly dividing cancer cells in the body. A patient suffering from blood cancer is given several drugs together in a set regimen. Chemotherapy may be given before a stem cell transplant. 

Chemotherapy drug is called as Systemic Chemotherapy when the drug travel through the bloodstream to reach cells throughout the body, and it is called Regional Chemotherapy when the chemotherapy drugs are directed to a specific area of the body.

The drugs may be used for the following reasons :

  • As a primary treatment to destroy cancer cells
  • Before another treatment to shrink a tumor
  • After another treatment is completed to destroy any remaining cancer cells
  • To relieve symptoms of advanced cancer

Radiation therapy:

Radiation Therapy is another advanced technology to deliver targeted therapy along with proactively managing side effects.

Radiation therapy is mainly used for destroying cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort to the patient. This therapy uses targeted energy such as X-rays and radioactive substances to destroy cancer cells, alleviate certain cancer-related symptoms and to shrink tumors.

Radiation therapy may also be given before a stem cell transplant and can be combined with other treatments for the following reasons :

  • To discourage the growth of cancer cells
  • Before another treatment is given in order to shrink a tumor
  • After another treatment to stop or slow down the growth of any remaining cancer cells
  • To relieve symptoms of advanced cancer

Blood cancer treatment can be very challenging for the doctors as well as the patient. It is still in its developing phase and needs to make strides in diagnosis and treatment with the help of research in full range of newer targeted therapies. Some people need treatment instantly while some do not, however it becomes important for a person to be more cautious if they are experiencing any of the above-mentioned symptoms. 

We hope this article was helpful in providing you with some useful information regarding blood cancer. Stay up to date with cancer related articles and health updates by following Elacancer blog. Do call at +91-8929020600 to experience highly reliable cancer assistance available only at Elacancer.


Dr. Abdullah

About the Author

Radiation Oncologist
Dr. Abdullah is a Top Radiation Oncologist in the Teynampet, Chennai and one of the leading medical Cancer Doctor in India. He specialized Radiotherapy, Image Guided Radio Therapy (IGRT) and Breast Cancer Management. He completed MBBS from Madras Medical College, Chennai in 2008, DMRT from Madras Medical College, Chennai in 2014 and DNB in Radiotherapy from National Board of Examinations in 2017. Check Dr. Abdullah's Consultation Fee and Book Appointment with Elacancer.
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For Cancer Consultation. Call +91 8929020600


SOURCES AND REFERENCES:

  1. Prevention of blood cancer prevents other types of blood cells, Elacancer - 2018
  2. Treatment for blood cancer Blood cancers, Elacancer - 2018
  3. Leukemia cells - fast moving cancer to the nervous system Leukemia, Elacancer - 2018
  4. Bone marrow test importance in blood cancer detection bone marrow, Elacancer - 2018
  5. Signs and symptoms of blood cancer symptoms of the cancer, Elacancer - 2018

1 Comment

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Mukul Kankipati
Oct. 27, 2018, 7:16 p.m.
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