Blood Cancer - Types, Symptoms and Treatment
"Blood cancer" refers to malignancies that begin in the blood cells. Among the many forms of blood cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are incredibly prevalent. MPNs and MDSs are two further classifications. In blood cells, alterations (mutations) to the DNA can lead to cancer.
Blood cancer changes how your body makes blood cells and how well those cells work. Most blood cancers start in the soft, sponge-like material in the middle of your bones called bone marrow. Your bone marrow makes stem cells, which then turn into red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets as they grow older.
Normal blood cells protect you from getting sick, carry oxygen to all parts of your body, and stop you from bleeding. Blood cancer happens when your body can't make blood cells the way it should. When you have blood cancer, abnormal blood cells take over and kill normal blood cells. This causes a chain reaction of health problems. As doctors find new ways to treat blood cancer, more people are living longer with it.
Types of Blood Cancer
Leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are the three most common cancer forms affecting the bone marrow and blood.
Cancer of the blood cells known as leukaemia begins in the bone marrow as well as the blood itself. This condition arises when the body produces an abnormally high number of white blood cells, which impedes the capacity of the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets.
Cancer of the blood that is called non-Hodgkin lymphoma arises in the lymphatic system from cells that are known as lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that assists the body in warding off infections.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that originates in the lymphatic system and is made up of cells called lymphocytes. Reed-Sternberg cells, a type of aberrant lymphocyte, are diagnostic of Hodgkin lymphoma because they are present in patients with this form of the disease.
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the blood and starts in the plasma cells of the blood. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell that is produced in the bone marrow. Additionally, educate yourself about the progression of multiple myeloma.
Symptoms of Blood Cancer
These are the few common symptoms of blood cancer:
- Fever, shivering
- Constant tiredness and weakness
- Not wanting to eat, feeling sick
- Loss of weight for no reason
- Wet nights
- Bone/joint pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Not enough air to breathe
- Frequent infections
- Rashes or itchy skin
- lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groyne that are swollen
There are several signs of blood cancer that are interchangeable with those of other, less serious disorders. Even if you experience one or more of these symptoms, it does not necessarily signify that you have blood cancer. However, you should make an appointment with your primary care physician if you observe symptoms or changes in your body that last for more than a couple of weeks.
Causes of Blood Cancer
Changes (mutations) in the DNA that is contained within blood cells are the root cause of all blood malignancies. Because of this, the cells in the blood begin to behave in an unnatural manner. These shifts are virtually often associated with factors that are beyond our ability to influence. As a result, they are not inherited flaws because they manifest themselves over a person's lifespan rather than in their genes.
In most cases, we are unable to determine the specific reasons why someone has got blood cancer; however, there are certain factors that we do know can increase your risk:
Age, gender, race, and familial background Some medical illnesses and treatments are related to exposure to radiation or chemicals.
Diagnosis of Blood Cancer
A physical exam to check your general health is often the first step in making a diagnosis. Your doctor will look at your health history, check your body and lymph nodes, and look for signs of infection or bruising.
Blood cancer can be found with different kinds of tests and procedures. What you need depends on what kind of blood cancer you think you have. Your care team may suggest tests and look at the results with you to figure out what's wrong.
A biopsy is a test that takes samples of cells so that a pathologist can look at them in a lab. For some types of blood cancer, like lymphoma, you may need a lymph node biopsy to get a sample of lymph tissue or the whole lymph node.
Some types of blood cancer can be found by testing your bone marrow, which is where blood cells are made. A bone marrow aspiration is a way for doctors to get a small amount of bone marrow, blood, and bone from the hip bone or breastbone. The sample is sent to a lab where it is looked at for abnormal cells or changes in the DNA.
Some types of blood cancer are easier to treat with imaging scans than others. A scan might find an enlarged lymph node, which is a common sign of lymphoma, but it's not usually used to diagnose leukaemia, which is a blood cancer that doesn't cause visible tumours. Still, scans could help find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
A complete blood count (CBC) shows how many white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets there are in the blood.
Blood chemistry tests check how much of certain important substances are in your blood. For example, your condition may be able to be told by the levels of certain proteins that are not normal. If doctors think you might have multiple myeloma, they might want to check how much calcium is in your blood. An enzyme called lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) can be used to check for lymphoma.
How is blood cancer treated ?
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for blood cancer. Some types of blood cancer do well with certain treatments. Some treatments for blood cancer have major side effects. Before recommending a treatment plan, doctors think about your age, your overall health, the type of blood cancer you have, and the side effects of your treatment. Some of the most common ways to treat blood cancer are:
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the main way to treat blood cancer. It kills cancer cells to stop or slow the spread of the disease. Different types of blood cancer are treated with different kinds of drugs.
Radiation therapy: Leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma can all be treated with radiation. Radiation goes after abnormal cells and hurts their DNA, so they can't make more copies of themselves. Radiation therapy is often used in conjunction with other treatments. They might use radiation to help with some of the symptoms.
Immunotherapy: It is a way to fight cancer that uses your immune system. Immunotherapy might help your body make more immune cells or help the ones it already has find and kill cancer cells.
Targeted therapy: It is a type of cancer treatment that focuses on genetic changes or mutations that change normal cells into cancerous cells.
In CAR T-cell therapy, doctors change T-cell lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cell, into a more effective way to treat cancer. If other treatments haven't worked, CAR T-cell therapy may be used to treat B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, multiple myeloma, and some types of non-lymphoma.
Autologous stem cell transplant: Before giving a high dose of chemotherapy, doctors can take stem cells from the bone marrow and store them. Once the chemotherapy is over, the stem cells that were kept safe will be replaced. People who get autologous stem cell implants can avoid the side effects of chemotherapy this way.
Allogeneic stem cell transplant: Sometimes, bone marrow that has been damaged needs to be replaced with bone marrow that is healthy. Your doctors will find a suitable bone marrow donor and use the donor's cells to replace the ones that are damaged. This method works well but is dangerous.