Blood Cancer

What is Blood Cancer?

The human blood is part of the circulatory system in the body. It is the fluid transporting cells and plasma throughout our body. Blood transports the required chemicals to the organs and cells. These include oxygen, carbohydrates, and hormones, among others. It also eliminates waste and toxins from the cells. Blood cells are produced by the bone marrow. It is a gel-like soft substance found in the cavity of the bones. The process of producing, developing, and differentiating blood cells is hematopoiesis. Blood cells in our body can be categorized into three types. They are:

White blood cells (WBCs): They comprise our immune system and combat illnesses.

Red Blood Cells (RBCs): They transport oxygen to the organs and tissues. They also transport carbon dioxide from our organs to the lungs to exhale.

Platelets: They help in blood clotting. They are responsible for wound healing.

Plasma: Around 55% of our blood fluid is plasma. It is 92% water and 8% critical elements such as:

  • Vitamins
  • Hormones
  • Glucose
  • Mineral Salts
  • Protein
  • Fats

RBCs, WBCs, and platelets together comprise 45% of the human blood. Each type plays a crucial role optimal functioning of our circulatory system. Blood cancer comprises different malignancies. As such, it is identified as an umbrella phrase. Blood cancer is a blood tumor. It is any disease-preventing the function or formation of blood.

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    Types

    Blood cancer is of the following types:

    Leukemia: This blood cancer starts from our bone marrow. It then spreads throughout our bodies. Sometimes our body creates a high volume of aberrant WBCs. These aberrant cells interfere with bone marrow’s ability to produce RBCs and platelets.

    Hodgkin Lymphoma: It is a type of blood cancer arising from the lymphocytes in our lymphatic system. The aberrant lymphocytes are the Reed-Sternberg cells. The cells are a part of Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer.

    Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: This blood cancer starts from the lymphocytes in our lymphatic system. The lymphocytes are WBCs aiding the body to fight infections.

    Multiple Myeloma: It is a blood cancer type starting in the blood plasma cells. They are also a form of WBCs created in our bone marrow.

    Symptoms

    Common blood cancer symptoms are:

    • Persistent Fatigue
    • Fever
    • Unexplained weakness
    • Nausea
    • Appetite loss
    • Joint/bone pain
    • Night Sweats
    • Breathing issues
    • Abdominal discomfort/pain
    • Unexplained loss of weight
    • Infections
    • Headaches
    • Weak blood clotting
    • Itchy skin and rashes
    • Lymph nodes are swollen

    Causes

    Identifying the exact reason behind blood cancer is impossible. Certain factors are increasing the risk of developing blood cancer. Blood cancer is of diverse types. Each one has its risk factors. The common causes are:

    Radiation Exposure: It has the potential of causing blood cancer. Radiation has certain wavelengths that damage the DNA, causing cancer. High exposure to radiation increases the risk of blood cancer. Cancer-curing radiotherapies and imaging examinations can radiate harmful radiation. It can also increase blood cancer risk.

    Family History: Cancer symptoms can also be hereditary. These symptoms are directly associated with acquiring cancer. These can be Fanconi anemia, down syndrome, and bloom syndrome, among others.

    Chemical exposure: Benzene is a deadly substance that frequently causes blood cancer. It is present in chemicals like formaldehyde and heavy industrial smoke. People working in factories with these chemicals are severely exposed as it is in the air. Continuous breathing increases the risk of blood cancer.

    Chronic inflammation: Our body’s inflammation process stops once the injury cures. Chronic inflammation results when infections remain for a long time. Abnormal immunological reactions occur to normal fat or tissues. This results in persistent inflammation. This chronic inflammation results in DNA damage as well as cancer. An important aspect is to identify where and why this inflammation occurs. Identifying the type of inflammation is also critical for successful treatment.

    Related Risk Factors:

    Smoking: Smoking is a major risk factor resulting in blood cancer. Smoking is usually associated with mouth or lung cancer. Yet, it is also a leading cause of blood cancer. The genetic composition of the blood cells disrupts severely with Tobacco. This results in the development of the aberrant cell. This results in blood dysfunction and ultimately, a blood cancer.

    Diet: More than 50% of the global population depend on an unhealthy diet. There are few food items that increase the risk of blood cancer. These are processed meat, refined sugar, aerated drinks, and diet food, among others.

    Stages

    Stage in blood cancer refers to its severity. It is important to make informed decisions when deciding on the treatment for blood cancer. This starts with identifying the course or stage of the blood cancer. Yet, knowing the blood cancer stage is only one vital part of identifying the preferred treatment choice. Blood cancer is further divided into stages based on its size & spread.

    Unlike other cancer types, blood cancer is in our bone marrow. It is in our blood cells, making it a unique cancer type with varied staging. The phases are based on cell counts as well as the accumulation of cells in different organs like the spleen and liver.

    Diagnosis

    Diagnosis of blood cancer including the following examinations:

    Urine Examination: This test measures the blood cells, proteins, and related components in the urine. Once the chemicals filter out of the kidney, they usually travel to the urine.

    Bone Marrow Test: The doctor will determine if a disease has struck the bone marrow. Disorders manifest in the body before manifesting in the blood. The doctor will take a small chunk of bone marrow for examination.

    Imaging Tests: These include tests like PET Scan, MRI, Chest X-ray, and CT, among others. The doctors will suggest the right tests to locate the tumors in the body. Tumors are the major reason for illness.

    Blood Tests: Doctors conduct blood tests to understand the cancer progression. It helps in furthering the treatment plan for blood cancer.

    Biopsy: Patients with suspected blood cancer receive a special biopsy. It is known as a biopsy of the lymph node. This is because blood cancer impacts the lymphatic system directly.

    Treatment

    Treatment facilities are based on the stage and type of the blood cancer. Other factors include the age of the patient, tolerance level, and organs affected. Blood cancer treatment can include:

    Chemotherapy: Your doctor will inject the medications into a big muscle or your veins. They are also taken orally or delivered under your skin. This depends on the cancer treatment stage. The medications travel via the bloodstream. They reach the target location and prevent the tumor cells from dissipating. Chemotherapy targets the quick-dividing cancer cells. As such, this treatment has the highest success outcome. The process involves several phases. The patient receives time for rest between the stages. This rest time helps in coping with the side effects of the treatment.

    Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy involves using high-energy radiation. It also includes radiotherapy that kills these cancer cells. The DNA of the cancer cells gets disrupted with this therapy. This prevents the cells from reproducing and growing.

    Targeted Therapy: This treatment targets the chemicals helping the cancer cells grow and spread. The therapy targets the proteins, blood vessels, and genes sustaining these tumor cells. A patient receives targeted therapy in collaboration with chemotherapy or by itself. This depends on the blood cancer type and cell features.

    Stem Cell Therapy: Bone marrow cells are also known as stem cells. They transform into different blood cells. Cancer cells destroy healthy blood cells and diminish the body’s functions. As such, removing the cancer cells is not enough. Patients might need a bone marrow or stem cell transplantation. This helps restore the body’s functions.

    Palliative care: Here the patient receives guidelines and resources for an improved life. Patients receive support via regular counseling and medicines.

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