Blood Cancer - Types & Treatment
Blood cancer usually starts at the bone marrow, the location in the body where blood is produced. The stem cells present in the bone marrow ages and evolve into three types of blood cells.
WBC - fights infections as part of your defensive system/ immune system
RBC - transports oxygen from the heart to other tissues and brings carbon dioxide to the lungs
Platelets - helps in blood clotting
In blood cancer, the healthy cell development interrupts, and there is excessive growth in the number of abnormal cells or cancer cells in the body. It affects the normal functioning of the blood - like combating various infections or assisting repairs of your body.
Types Of Blood Cancer
It is a cancer of the bone marrow, lymphatic system, or similar blood-forming tissues. Several types of leukemia are present. Some are seen mostly in children, while some are more common in adults.
Leukemia causes when there is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal white blood cells in the tissue.
The WBCs are responsible for fighting infections when they grow and develop in an orderly way. But in the case of leukemia, this doesn't happen. You became prone to many serious infections that could be avoided.
People experience different signs and symptoms, depending on the type of leukemia. Some of the common symptoms associated with the disease are -
- Frequent infections
- The appearance of red spots on the skin
- Enlarged spleen or liver
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Unexpected weight loss
- Night sweats
- Tenderness or pain in bones
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system of the body. The lymphatic system comprises lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, and thymus gland. The lymphatic system is responsible for killing the germs present in the body.
In lymphoma, the body becomes incapable of fighting germs and getting susceptible to several serious diseases. It mainly affects the lymphatic system, but can also affect other organs as well.
Lymphoma can be of two types-
- Hodgkin's lymphoma
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
The treatment you will get depends on the type and stage of cancer. Step 1 means the tumor is limited to some lymph nodes and has not yet spread much, whereas phase 4 of the disease is the final stage where the cancer has spread to several lymph nodes and other organs like bone marrow or lungs or other adjacent organs.
Following are the symptoms of lymphoma:
- Enlarged spleen
- Bone pain
- Itchy skin
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Shortness of breath
It is a type of blood cancer that affects the particular type of WBC called plasma cell. The plasma cell combat germs and keep yourself away from several infections by making antibodies. In multiple myeloma, cancer cells pile up in the bone marrow. These cancer cells then displace the healthy blood cells and develop abnormal protein that can give rise to complications.
Following are some of the prevalent symptoms of multiple myeloma:
- Mental confusion
- Poor appetite
- Recurring infections
- Bone pain
- Excessive thirst
- Weakness and insensitivity in legs
Causes Of Blood Cancer
- Family history
- Certain infections
- Weak immune system
Best Treatment Alternative For Blood Cancer
There are several treatment alternatives for blood cancer. You can choose the best by considering the following factors:
- Your current condition
- The symptoms you are experiencing
- How soon it has detected
- Your age and general state of health
- Genetic conditions
If you have blood cancer, chemotherapy and radiotherapy will be given to you at the earliest. If your condition is getting worse day by day, then the doctor will opt for the stem cell transplant. Your healthcare professional team will provide you with the best suitable treatment according to your health condition.
It kills dividing cancer cells and stops them from growing. The drug for chemotherapy injects into the vein, and it traverses the entire bloodstream killing the abnormal cells.
You can also experience specific side effects with chemotherapy as the drug affects healthy cells as well to some extent.
This therapy is given along with some other treatments like radiotherapy or hormone therapy to revive healthy blood cells.
Chemotherapy is used because:
- Relieve current symptoms
- Shrink the size of the tumor
- To prevent spreading cancerous cells
- To lower the count of cancerous cells in the body
Also known as radiation therapy. It is used to treat various health disorders, including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, etc. It is generally given in high doses and uses the same radiation as that of diagnostic x rays.
Radiotherapy damages the genetic materials from within that precludes them from spreading and dividing. It hampers healthy blood cells as well, along with the abnormal blood cells. The recent advancements in the treatment ensure that there is minimal cancer spread to the nearby healthy cells.
Radiotherapy is used for the following reasons:
- If there is a pain encroachment by leukemia and chemotherapy hasn't relieved the symptoms, then radiation therapy is provided.
- To reduce the tumor if it is present in the windpipe, and it is leading to breathing difficulties.
- To treat leukemia if it has spread to the spinal fluid, brain, or the testicles.
Possible Side Effects Of The Treatment
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Sore mouth
- Memory loss
- Changes in skin and nails
- Decreased concentration