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  • Writer's pictureShruti GOCHHWAL

Blood Cancer: Symptoms and Treatment

It’s tough to kill blood cancer! The term blood cancer itself is a broad term which affects the proper functioning of your blood and blood cells, causing disease. Let’s learn about blood cancer, its types, symptoms and treatment here!

Overview of Blood Cancer

Red cancer

Red blood cells, Credits: pixabay

Blood cancer is a hematologic disorder which starts in the bone marrow where the blood cells are produced. Blood cancer is a result of abnormal blood cells which interrupt the normal functioning of the blood cells. It also leads to increased infection in the body as the white blood cells, which help fight off infection.

Types of Blood Cancer

Blood cancer is classified into three different types

  1. Leukaemia – In this type of blood cancer, the production of red blood cells and platelets are affected. The cells in the bone marrow start replicating abnormally, which in turn affects the ability of bone marrow to produce RBC and platelets.

  2. Lymphoma – The lymphatic system which helps remove excess fluids from your body is affected in this type of blood cancer. Lymphocytes are a type of blood cell involved in the production of immune cells that help fight off infection. These lymphocytes tend to grow abnormally and uncontrollably in your lymph nodes and other tissues causing cancer. It is also called non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

  3. Hodgkin lymphoma – It develops in the lymphatic system where the lymphocytes tend to grow abnormally and uncontrollably. The abnormal lymphocytes in Hodgkin lymphoma are called the Reed-Sternberg cell.

  4. Myeloma – The plasma cells in the White blood cells are affected in this type. Plasma cells are responsible for the production of disease-fighting antibodies in the body. Myeloma causes uncontrollable production of plasma cells resulting in a weak immune system.

Signs and Symptoms of Blood Cancer

Person suffering from blood cancer

Person suffering from blood cancer, Credits: pixabay

Blood cancer is a broad type of malignancy affecting the blood, bone marrow, or lymphatic system. Some of the common signs and symptoms of blood cancer include:

  1. Extreme fatigue and malaise

  2. Shallow and rapid breathing

  3. Fragile bones which may result in fractures with minimal strains

  4. Bleeding gums

  5. Weak immune system causing recurrent infections or fever

  6. Perspiration especially during the night

  7. Loss in weight

  8. Nausea and vomiting

  9. Loss of appetite,

  10. Enlarged lymph node

  11. Abdominal pain, abdominal distension, and back pain.

  12. State of Delirium

  13. Headaches along with visual difficulties

  14. Rashes or dark spots on the skin

  15. Difficulty urinating

What Causes Blood Cancer?

There is no specific cause of blood cancer, and various other factors are known to be associated with its onset. Some causes of blood cancer may include:

  1. Ageing

  2. History of blood cancer in the family

  3. Weaker immune system

  4. Certain infections

  5. Carcinogens like smoking, or environmental hazards

Treatment of Blood Cancer

Treatment of blood cancer

Person getting treated for blood cancer, Credits: pixabay

Blood Cancer treatment depends on the blood cancer type and stages a breast cancer patient. The following therapies can be advised:

  1. Biological therapy- It involves stimulating the immune system to directly or indirectly attack and kill the cancer cells.

  2. Chemotherapy – It involves treating a patient by administering cancer drugs. The chemotherapy intervention can be given as a single therapy or many medications in combination depending on the stage. Chemotherapy treatment delays the progression of blood cancer and facilitates remission. However, it is a non-selective treatment option with side effects like nausea, tiredness and alopecia.

  3. Radiation therapy- It involves targeting the cancer cells with the right amount of high energy X-ray radiation. The success of radiation therapy involves delivering the right amount of radiation in the right area of the body for the right time.

  4. Stem cell Transplantation – This is typically a procedure recommended when all the other therapies have failed. In this procedure, the damaged or destroyed bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow stem cells. In the method, large doses of chemotherapy drugs are injected to kill the existing cells, and then healthy cells from the donor are introduced.

There are numerous cancer hospitals in India that are committed to improving the outlook of patients with blood cancer through novel therapeutic approaches.

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