The big ‘C’ for Cancer is becoming the fastest emerging medical emergency across the world. The time it will take for you to complete reading this blog is the frequency of the spread of this deadly disease. It has left no body organ or part untouched. Blood Cancer is an umbrella term for the cancers affecting blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system.
What is Blood Cancer?
Blood Cancers or hematologic Cancers affect the production and function of Blood cells. They start mostly in the bone marrow where blood is produced. It involves accumulation of cancerous cells in the bone marrow, blood and lymphatic system that includes lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, tonsils, digestive tract and thyroid tissue. These cancerous cells multiply faster, showing multiple symptoms that can be recognized with proper diagnosis.
Types of Blood Cancers
There are three types of Blood Cancers with different variations:
- Leukemia – Cancer thatoriginates in blood-forming tissue and impairs body’s ability to produce red blood cells. If you have leukemia, you produce an abnormal number of immature white blood cells which accumulate your bone marrow and stop it from making other blood cells vital for a balanced immune system and healthy blood. Chronic leukemia develops slowly over years, while acute leukemia occurs suddenly,progresses fast and needs to be treated urgently.
- Lymphoma – Cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes (White blood cells) that immunes the body against infections. If you have lymphoma, your body produces too many lymphocytes, living longer than they should. This overload compromises your immune system.
- Myeloma–Cancer that begins in the plasma cells (another variety of WBC) made in the bone marrow which produce antibodies (called immunoglobulin ) to fight infections and diseases. In case of myeloma, your bone marrow produces too many plasma cells blocking the production of antibodies for our immune system.
Some most common Symptoms of Blood Cancer
- Fever & chills
- Persistent fatigue & weakness
- Nausea & loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Headache & joint pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Abnormal bleeding from cuts or gums
- Itchy skin or rashes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Difficulty urinating
- Decreased process of blood clotting
- Massive bleeding in women during periods.
People who have blood cancer can have problems with bleeding & serious infections. Seek immediate medical care for symptoms such as uncontrolled bleeding, severe sweating, difficulty breathing, pale or blue lips or fingernails, high fever (greater than 101 degrees Fahrenheit), fast heart rate, confusion, loss or change in level of consciousness, or anxiety.
Causes of Blood Cancer
Any of these Blood cancers can be cause due to genetic disorder, high doses of radiation or carcinogens.
- Genetic disorders like Fanconianaemia, Schwachman- diamond syndrome and down syndrome
- High doses of radiation
- Carcinogenic chemical exposure
- Weak immune system
- HIV infection
- Increased age
Treatments of Blood Cancers
The treatment of blood cancers depend on the types of cancer, age, part of body affected and the speed of progression. Some major treatments include:
- Stem cell transplantation
These are the tests used for blood cancer detection:
- Physical exam
- Blood test
- Chest X-Ray
- Urine test
- Spinal tap (process to remove and test some of the spinal fluid to help diagnose disorders)
Making healthy choices at grocery stores and in your life can reduce risk of blood cancer, as balanced diet keeps the immunity system strong.
- Healthy lifestyle with balanced diet
- Regular exercise
- Avoid processed meat/fish and saturated fats
- Stay away from harmful chemicals such as pesticides
- Avoid radiations
- Adopt safety measures
Blood cancer diagnosis depends on various factors such as on which stage it is diagnosed, age of the patient, extent of spread of cancer.To stay healthy and safe, it is always best to keep a check on your body functions by adopting regular health checkups,which helps in early stage of risk assessment & diagnosis, following with effective treatment of the condition.