Cancer of the blood that inhibits the functioning of the body is known as Blood Cancer. It is the Cancer of the Blood and the Bone Marrow. The abnormal growth of Blood Cells that crowd the healthy cells in the body affects the functioning and the production of healthy blood cells. Mainly, it is of three types: - Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma.
The excessive and uncontrollable growth of blood cells is known as Blood Cancer. Below are its three main types.
When the number of white blood cells in a body rises gradually, it is known as Leukemia. It is a type of Blood Cancer. Those white blood cells in the body do not fight infections, but rather crowd the existing red blood cells and platelets. Following are the types of Leukemia: -
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
- Hairy cell leukemia (HCL)
- Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Myeloproliferative disorder
Lymphoma is a tumor that develops in the lymphatic system of the body. It majorly begins in the white blood cells (also known as infection-fighters) or lymphocytes. The uncontrollable growth of lymphocytes in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow leads to this type of Blood Cancer. Following are the two types of Lymphoma: -
- Hodgkin's lymphoma- It can occur in both children and adults. In this case, the uncontrollable growth of cancer cells starts in B cells (also known as B-lymphocytes).
- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma- Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma can also occur in both children and adults. In this case, the uncontrollable growth of cancer cells starts in B-lymphocytes or in T-lymphocytes (cells that work to destroy the targeted invaders).
Its medicines have been listed among ‘the most expensive cancer drugs.’ Among others, rituximab price is the average range of drugs prescribed for lymphoma.
Myeloma is a type of Blood Cancer that develops in the plasma cells (a type of white blood cell). In this cancer, cancer cells crowd the healthy cells in the bone marrow. Myeloma, hence, leads to a weak immune system. Following are the types of Myeloma: -
- Light Chain Myeloma
- Non-secretory Myeloma
- Solitary Plasmacytoma
- Extramedullary Plasmacytoma
- Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS)
- Smoldering Multiple Myeloma (SMM)
- Immunoglobulin D (IgD) Myeloma
- Immunoglobulin E (IgE) Myeloma
Even if these three types are different in terms of mutations, some blood cancer medicines may be common.
The incidence of Blood Cancer has rapidly increased in the world due to unhealthy lifestyles and genetic factors. Majorly, out of the three types of Blood Cancer, Lymphoma has affected more people across the world, followed by Leukemia, and lastly Myeloma. Researchers have been constantly looking forward to blood cancer treatment considering the statistics.
- Stage-1: At this stage, the number of Lymphocytes (white blood cells) increases and results in the inflammation of the lymph nodes in the human body. Cancer at this stage has not yet spread to other parts of the body.
- Stage-2: At this stage, the enlargement of the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes takes place in the body. Sometimes, not all of these parts get affected. However, Lymphocytes keep on increasing gradually.
- Stage-3: Anemia occurs. Also, this is the stage of Blood Cancer where at least two of the parts are affected by the increasing Lymphocytes and their crowding.
- Stage-4: Blood Cancer at this stage starts to spread to other parts of the body including the lungs. Its risk becomes more. Also, anemia becomes acute and affects highly.
It is believed that Blood Cancer develops and spreads as a result of certain environmental and genetic factors. However, its main cause is still not known. Mostly, older people are at risk of developing cancer. But, Blood Cancer can affect anybody. After several kinds of research and studies, it was found that some causes of Blood Cancer can be changed, while others cannot.
- Radiation Exposure
- Chemicals Exposure
- Chemotherapy Drugs
- Unhealthy Lifestyle
- Genetic Defects
- Family History
- Blood Disorders
- Epstein-Barr virus
Myth: Anemia means Blood Cancer.
Fact: Anemia does not cause or mean Blood Cancer. However, one can get Blood Cancer after Anemia due to body conditions or vice versa. Anemia refers to the decreased red blood cell count in the human body, whereas Blood Cancer refers to the uncontrollable growth of blood cells in the body that disrupt the functioning of healthy cells.
Myth: Blood Cancer is not curable?
Fact: Blood Cancer can be treated by various effective treatment methods such as stem cell transplant, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, etc. Also, many types of research and studies are undertaken to provide more accessible treatment options for Blood Cancer across the globe.
Myth: Leukemia does not affect adults.
Fact: Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer. However, it can affect adults too. Also, most of the reported cases of Leukemia are of adults aged 50 or above.
Myth: Survival chance is less in Blood Cancer.
Fact: The survival rate of patients suffering from Blood Cancer has increased in the past few years due to the advancements in treatment methods and accessibility across the globe.
Myth: Only a blood relative is allowed to donate Bone marrow for Transplantation.
Fact: Bone Marrow can be donated by anyone. It is not specifically relevant that only people having blood relations can donate it. Any person (18-60 years of age) who is capable of or is willing to donate Bone Marrow (provided that he/she meets the guidelines set by the hospital and healthcare department) can donate Bone Marrow for transplantation.
Blood Cancer does not exist in one face. It can be of multiple types, where each type of Blood Cancer may show variant signs and symptoms. Different people experience different symptoms. However, some of the common changes that can be easily observed and noted are as follows: -
- Fever and chills
- Bone and joint pain
- Skin rash
- Vomiting sensations
- Visual difficulties
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- Sweating at night
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty in urination
- Discomfort or uneasiness
- Enlargement of lymph node
- Unusual bleeding
- Skin rash
- Frequent vomiting or vomiting sensations
- Discomfort or restlessness
- Eating disorders like Anorexia
- Problems in urinating
- Swelling or enlargement of lymph nodes
- Back pain
There can be other signs and symptoms also. Therefore, if you experience symptoms for a longer time than usual, it is advisable to consult a medical practitioner for further guidance. Moreover, the above signs may occur during cancer therapies also. Medicines like imatinib mesylate can influence the functioning of the body.
Prevention of Blood Cancer does not include any “hard and fast rule” because of a reason that its major cause is still not known. Medicines for blood cancer just help manage the tumor. Its onset can be linked to certain factors that further help to enlist some of its prevention techniques.
- Quit Smoking: - In many kinds of research and studies, smoking has been linked to certain types of cancers including Blood Cancer. Therefore, it is necessary to avoid smoking in order to maintain a healthy distance from such diseases.
- Avoid Chemical Exposure: - Keep yourself away from cancer-causing chemicals like herbicides and insecticides. Such chemicals are thought to be one of the major causes of the onset of cancer in the human body, including Blood Cancer.
- Exercise Regularly: - Regular exercise and disciplined schedule help to create balance in life. Giving good importance to your body is necessary to stay protected and away from almost all kinds of diseases.
- Avoid Radiation Exposure: - It is advisable to avoid exposure to radiation such as X-Ray, Gamma Rays, Neutrons, etc. because such rays can cause damage to DNA. Hence, it can lead to the onset of cancer in the human body.
- Avoid Self-Medication: - For any issue related to your health, make sure to consult a medical practitioner rather than using medicines on your own. Self-Medication often misguides and misleads.
- Eat Healthy Foods: - Enrich your diet with healthy and nutritional food items such as vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, tea, coffee (preferably without sugar), walnuts, and low-fat proteins (including low-fat dairy products).
Blood Cancer can be treated using various techniques, after its diagnosis. Its early detection can help to effectively treat cancer in the body. Certain treatment methods can be used, such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, etc. Read the diagnosis methods below, to briefly understand its treatment.
Blood Cancer can be diagnosed by the following methods: -
- Complete Blood Count Test: - This test is widely used to diagnose certain disorders. Complete Blood Count Test gives a clear picture of the blood cells and helps to know the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets present in the body. Several tests are included in the Complete Blood Count Test, namely WBC Count, WBC Differential, RBC Count, and MPV, Platelet Count.
- Biopsy: - Bone Marrow Examination or Bone Marrow Biopsy is a process of analyzing a sample of bone marrow to examine and detect diseases (including Blood Cancers). It is done by withdrawing a sample of bone marrow through a hollow needle.
- Blood and Urine Test: - Blood and Urine Tests are used for detecting abnormal cells, their nature, and their presence. Also, it examines the presence and effect of certain chemicals.
- X-ray, MRI, and CT Scan: - These tests are usually done in case of Myeloma. They are used to detect the presence, nature, and growth of cancer cells in the body.
In many cases of Blood Cancer, immediate treatment may not be necessary. After the diagnosis, the doctor decides whether treatment is required or not. Also, the doctor examines your medical condition to provide you with the best treatment option that is suitable for your goals ahead.
Following are the treatment methods for Blood Cancer: -
Chemotherapy involves the use of anticancer medications (injection or tablet or capsule) to fight cancerous cells. These drugs help to hinder the growth and spread of cancerous cells in the body to prevent further damage to the health.
Side Effects of Chemotherapy
While treating Blood Cancer, Chemotherapy may cause some toxic side effects. Hence, patients need to stay in touch with their healthcare professionals in order to understand the complications caused by the therapy. The range of side effects is listed below: -
- Effect on Heart: - Side effects of chemotherapy can increase the risk of heart disease. Some of them are as follows: -
- Irregular blood flow
- Risk of blood clots
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Fluctuation in pulse
- Weaken of the heart muscle
- Effect on the Nervous System: - Chemotherapy can interfere with the functioning of the central nervous system. Some of the adverse side effects are mentioned below: -
- Difficulty in movement
- Effect on Blood Cell Count: - Low blood cell count is one of the major sides effects, and some of them are stated below: -
- Pale skin
- Difficulty in healing
- Nose bleeding
- Other common Side Effects: - Chemotherapy also affects the mouth, stomach, and digestive tract. Some common side effects are listed below: -
- Change in taste
- Tooth decay
- Mouth sores
Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation is a transplantation process initiated after chemotherapy or/and radiation therapy usually. It involves the replacement of damaged cancerous cells with some of the healthy cells.
Types of stem cell transplant
The two main types of Stem Cell Transplant are: -
- Autologous: - In this type of stem cell transplantation, medical professionals use patients' stem cells.
- Allogenic: - In this type of stem cell transplantation, a medical professional uses stem cells from a donor.
Targeted Therapy involves the use of specific medicines that target some specific protein or genes. By doing so, those medicines hinder the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
This therapy uses the immune system of the patient to fight the tumor. One of such medicines is rituximab injection. Immunotherapy helps to slow down the growth of cancer cells in the body. At times, it works to destroy the cancer cells by preparing the immune system of the patient against the tumor.
Radiation Therapy, also known as Radiotherapy, uses radiation to fight the cancerous cells in the body. In this therapy, radiations of a very high wavelength are utilized, aiming to shrink the tumor.
Many types of psychotherapy can be undertaken to help the patient in coping with stress, fear, and anxiety after cancer treatment. Such activities help the person to overcome all the problems associated with mental health and stress. Most of the time, coping with stress and anxiety is done with the help of the following activities: -
- Start expressing yourself: - Write, draw, scribble, or sketch your feelings. Let your thoughts help you in healing your anxiety. This is because of the fact that not being expressive about your fears and problems might trigger stress and hinder good health.
- Read a book: - Start reading books that resonate with you and your thought process. Passing your time on interesting activities can help you to recover your normal life, once again.
- Practice meditation: - Meditation and other simple yoga postures can be used to calm your mind and enrich your mental and physical health with positivity.
- Add good foods to your diet: - Change your diet according to your healthcare provider or add certain food items to your normal diets such as low-fat protein (fish, meat, legumes), whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
- Aromatherapy: - This therapy involves the use of aroma compounds. Through such materials, Aromatherapy aims to improve the health of the person. It is usually directed by Aromatherapists.
Sometimes, Blood Cancer strikes and affects the person again after the treatment. This is known as Cancer Recurrence. This situation can arise after a few days or months or years or never after treatment. To keep a watch for recurrence, you should ask your healthcare provider about the signs and symptoms of the same, and the prevention techniques.
Most treatment techniques do not cause any side effects at all. However, in some cases, side effects may occur and last for a longer period. Some of them are: -
- Difficulty in swallowing
To manage such side effects, regular blood tests are done. Also, the health provider gives specific medicines to treat the side effects easily and effectively.
- Palliative care is also known as supportive care. It is used after the treatment of Blood Cancer.
- This includes the activities that improve the quality of patients’ lives.
- It also includes supportive counseling to the family members.
- This comprises the management of the long-term side effects after the treatment.
After the treatment of Blood Cancer, it takes little time to retrieve the “Normal Life”. To do so, the healthcare provider helps more often. Otherwise, the rest of the family members also can improve the condition of the patient by providing a relaxing environment and healthy lifestyle. This is done by step-by-step progression.