What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancer refers to the uncontrolled division and growth of blood cells in the body that interfere with the physiological functions of normal blood cells. Blood cancer usually starts in the bone marrow where all the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets are produced. Leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma are blood cancers that affect various blood cells.
Bone marrow cells.
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Cancer
The signs and symptoms can vary between individuals. Some typical ones are:
- Swollen lymph nodes, spleen, or liver
- High fever and chills
- Severe infections lasting for a long time
- Unexpected weight loss
- Fatigue and weakness
- Recurrent nosebleeds and bruising
- Poor wound healing
- Red spots (looks like rashes) on the skin
- Body and Bone tenderness
- Blood vomiting (in extreme cases)
- Frequent headaches
- Breathing difficulties
Kindly consult with an oncologist for an appropriate diagnosis.
Possible Blood Cancer treatment
The blood cancer treatment plan depends upon the type of blood cancer, its severity, your general body health, and comorbidities (if any). The possible blood cancer treatment includes:
- Immunotherapy: The immune therapy treatment is widely used and has been proven to be effective in treating blood cancer. It directs the body's immune system to attack and kill specific cancer cells.
- Chemotherapy: This therapy uses powerful drugs that directly target the cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy can be used alone or in combination with radiation to treat blood cancer.
- Bone marrow transplantation: In stem cell therapy or bone marrow transplantation, the patient’s blood-forming stem cells are replaced by the donor’s cells.
- Nutrition Plan: The oncologist may recommend a specific diet as a part of your treatment plan during and/or after the therapy.
Clear all your doubts regarding the blood cancer treatment duration, risks, and complications, with the oncologist before starting the cancer treatment.
Risk Factors for Blood Cancer
The chances of blood cancer may increase due to the below:
- Genetic disorders: Inherited genetic abnormalities like Down's syndrome, Klinefelter's syndrome, and neurofibromatosis may increase the risk of blood cancer.
- Cancer treatment: If you have undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy for certain cancer, you may be at risk of suffering from leukemia.
- Chemical exposure: Prolonged exposure to benzene alters the blood cell DNA leading to cancer.
- Cigarette Smoking: Cigarettes usually contain formaldehyde, ammonia, benzene, nicotine, etc. that act as carcinogenic substances.
- Family medical history: If any of your family members have been diagnosed with blood cancer, you may be at a greater risk of inheriting the cancerous genes.
Stages of Blood Cancer
Blood cancer can be divided into the following stages:
- Stage I: During the initial stages, lymph node swelling occurs due to the increase in the number of lymphocytes in the blood. It is treatable since cancer has not spread.
- Stage II: The lymphocytes increase rapidly in the blood. Enlargement of the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes is generally noted at this stage.
- Stage III: The body's immune system cannot fight against the cancer cells. The liver, spleen, or lymph nodes are severely affected at this stage, causing anemia. The treatment is challenging.
- Stage IV: The platelets decrease rapidly, impacting the blood clotting process. Body organs like the lungs, intestines, and others may get affected. The patient also suffers from acute anemia.
Diagnosis Test for Blood Cancer
The doctor will do a physical examination to check for all possible signs and symptoms. They may prescribe a complete blood count test, bone marrow biopsy, and lymph node biopsy. Abnormal blood cell count and the biopsy can confirm blood cancer and its prognosis. Imaging techniques such as CT, MRI, and PET scans can also detect cancer.
Prevention of Blood Cancer
Primary Prevention of Blood Cancer
The following steps help in preventing the development of blood cancer:
- Avoid an unhealthy diet: Consumption of red meat consumption and junk food should be avoided.
- Avoid smoking and alcohol intake: Smoking and consumption of alcohol should be avoided.
- Screening: If you have a family history of cancer, kindly consult an oncologist and get a screening done.
Secondary Prevention of Blood Cancer
If you are recovering from the initial stages of blood cancer, the following steps would help prevent recurrence:
- Healthy living: Eat a healthy diet, do regular exercises and maintain a healthy body weight.
- Annual check-ups: Do regular follow-ups with your oncologist to keep a tab on the likely recurrence of cancer episodes.
- Take timely medications: If your doctor has prescribed medicines after the treatment, take them on time. If you are in remission, do not stop the medication without consulting your doctor.
Alternate Name for Blood Cancer
Hematologic cancer or Leukemia.
Epidemiology of Blood Cancer
- India being the second most populated country in the world records nearly 8% of blood cancer cases every year. Around 20,000 new cases of childhood blood cancers are detected each year, and nearly 15,000 of these are leukemia cases.
- Blood cancer can affect everyone irrespective of age, gender, and geographical location.
Expected Prognosis of Blood Cancer
Blood is the major connective tissue in our body. The cancer cells in the blood can circulate to all the body tissues and organs. A person detected with blood cancer has a 70% chance of survival in the next five years. With timely diagnosis and treatment, the person can go into remission.
Natural Progression of Blood Cancer
The stem cells, in the bone marrow, rapidly divide themselves and thus any mutated stem cells will produce abnormal blood cells with altered functions. The cancer cells will lodge themselves in other parts of the body and impact overall well-being.
Pathophysiology of Blood Cancer
Blood cancer occurs due to the malignant transformation of the blood stem cells. The altered blood cells cannot carry out normal functions like oxygen transportation, fight-off infections, wound healing, etc. The altered metabolism help in their proliferation and tumor growth.
Possible Complications of Blood Cancer
Advanced cancer can cause severe complications within the body. The tumor growth can cause nerve damage, jaundice, kidney damage, blocked blood vessels, frequent and severe infections, etc. Since cancer raids the bone marrow, it can cause bone fractures and raise serum calcium levels. The complications may also arise due to intense treatment therapy sessions.
Timely diagnosis and treatment are necessary to combat the complications of blood cancer. Consult your oncologist for appropriate suggestions.
Our Medical Blood Cancer Treatment in Mumbai, India Experts
If you are facing any similar signs or symptoms please contact the Nanavati Max team to schedule an appointment at : +91 22 6836 0000