what is Blood Cancer

Blood flows through our vessels to supply all the body’s organs and tissues with nutrients.

In the roughly five liters of blood circulating through our bodies there are billions of blood cells with different functions that are vital to life.

There are three Types of Blood cells.

The red blood cells, or erythrocytes, are the most numerous of the three. They carry oxygen to the body’s cells.

The white blood cells, or leukocytes, combat diseases. And the platelets, also called thrombocytes, help the body to stop bleeding when injured.

The blood cells are formed in the bone marrow.

The bone marrow is found in the cavities of bones. For example in the thigh bones or pelvic bone. One of the body’s key defense mechanisms is the natural death of cells.

Blood cells that are unusable or damaged initiate pre-programmed cell death and in this way, protect the body from diseases.

This is why the body must produce many hundreds of billions of new blood cells every day.

blood cells
Blood Cells

All blood cells originate from stem cells. Stem cells The stem cells are so-called mother cells that have not yet taken on a specialised function.

They are able to renew themselves and to develop into specialised cells. In this way, they can replace the body’s dead cells.

How blood cancer develops

The stem cells of the blood divide and develop in the bone marrow into progenitor cells.

Through further cell division, these progenitor cells, then mature into different types of blood cells and enter the bloodstream.

How blood cancer develops Defects can stop the normal process of maturation and natural cell death. This leads to the formation of immature or dysfunctional blood cells which enter the bloodstream and multiply uncontrollably.

These dysfunctional cells are called cancer cells. They can no longer carry out the normal cell functions and no longer die a natural cell death.

The cancer cells flood the bloodstream and crowd out the healthy cells. This means that the blood can no longer fulfil its tasks.

Depending on the level of maturity of the blood cells in which the malignant changes take place, doctors distinguish between three main groups of blood cancer: leukaemia, multiple myeloma and malignant lymphoma.

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Malignant lymphoma is also known as cancer of the lymph nodes.

Cancer patients who suffer from diseases can be treated with a stem cell transplant from a healthy matching donor.

stem cell transplant
Stem Cell Transplant

The transplant of healthy stem cells helps the patient’s bone marrow to regenerate and to start forming healthy blood cells again.

In summary, we can say that the term blood cancer is a general description for various malignant diseases of the blood-forming system.

Stem cell transplantation is thus an important form of treatment for the affected patients.

 

Types of blood cancer in Adults

The three main types of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma:

Leukemia :

Leukemia is a blood cancer that originates in the blood and bone marrow.

It occurs when the body creates too many abnormal white blood cells and interferes with the bone marrow’s ability to make red blood cells and platelets.

Leukemia
Leukemia white blood cells

Different leukaemias require different treatments, some chronic leukaemias do not require any treatment, and are simply observed over years and may never require any treatment.

Other treatments include tablets, and some of these tablets now are targeted to certain abnormal genes in the leukaemia cells, and many patients will stay on these tablets lifelong, but with minimal or no side effects and are effectively cured with the use of a tablet.

Other types of tablets involve the use of oral chemotherapy, which can be used for some chronic types of leukaemia.

The acute leukaemias tend to need more intensive treatment, and this usually involves treatment in the hospital with intravenous chemotherapy which is intensive and often will require regular antibiotic therapy and transfusions.

Some patients will also need a stem cell transplant.

Stem cells are the cells in the bone marrow that make all the other cells, and stem cell transplantation can allow for a higher cure rate in some of the aggressive types of the leukaemia.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma

Is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (or NHL) attacks the cells of the body’s lymphatic system, including the lymph nodes, vessels, and fluid.

It may also affect other parts of the system including the tonsils, spleen, thymus, skin, and certain areas of the stomach.

NON-HODGKINS-LYMPHOMA-lymph-node
NON-HODGKINS-LYMPHOMA-lymph-node

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma may begin as an abnormal cell that eventually grows into a tumor and spreads across the lymphatic system.

Individuals who are affected by this type of cancer may experience the following symptoms:

  • Swelling of the nodes in the armpits, groin, and neck
  • Sudden loss of weight
  • Unexplained night sweats
  • Fever
  • Chest pain and persistent cough
  • Abdominal pain
  • Extreme tiredness and lack of energy

Hodgkin lymphoma

Is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes.

A type of lymphoma, not as common as Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, is Hodgkin’s disease or Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which is characterized by malignant growths of cells in the lymphoid system.

What distinguishes Hodgkin’s disease from other lymphoma is the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells in the area where the cancer has developed.

The disease can occur in both children and adults, and among them, a higher incidence of the disease has been found among young adults between the ages of twenty-five and thirty and among those who are fifty-five or older.

As with other lymphomas, the symptoms of this disease include a compromised immune system, which results in a higher incidence of infections.

The treatment of this disease also includes some of the common modes of treatment used to treat other lymphomas.

The most often used among these is chemotherapy, which involves administering powerful drugs that target the cells that cause the cancer.

Another common type of treatment is radiation therapy, where a radiation beam is targeted at a localized area where there is a concentration of cancer cells.

For advanced cases, a bone marrow transplant is done to bolster the body’s immune system.

Multiple myeloma

Multiple myeloma is a cancer arising from a cell called plasma cells, which originates in the bone marrow, comes from the B lymphocyte population, and that can affect the bone across the body in multiple sites.

Hence, the name multiple myeloma.

Which can affect the skull, spine, long bones, pelvic bone, and causing born pains, fractures. And they also secrete protein which is called para protein.

And this is part of the myeloma spectrum.

They’re mainly classified on the basis of a short form called CRAB, which C stands for calcium which comes from the bone, R stands for renal involvement or kidney dysfunction,

A stands for anaemia, and B stands for bone changes. So, these are the main features of multiple myeloma.

Blood cancer symptoms

Some common blood cancer symptoms include:

  • Fever, chills
  • extreme tiredness (fatigue), weakness
  • Loss of appetite, nausea
  • Un-explained weight loss
  • Drenching Night sweats
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • repeated infections
  • Itchy skin or skin rash
  • easy bruising and / or bleeding
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, stomach or groin
Blood cancer symptoms
Blood cancer symptoms

It’s really important to note that not everyone will have the same condition (or even any) symptoms.

Symptoms are physical or mental changes that come about because of a health condition.

Causes of Blood Cancer

A weakened immune system – this may be a result of drugs that suppress the immune system (such as those used for organ transplants), high doses of radiation (such as in radiotherapy for another cancer), or diseases that affect the immune system (such as HIV).

But still scientists don’t understand the exact causes of blood cancer.

It seems to develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Causes of Blood Cancer

Some causes are:

  • Aging
  • Family history
  • Weak immune system
  • Certain infections

Blood cancer stages

Depending on the spread and impact of the medical condition, blood cancer is divided into four stages.

Stage 1:

The lymph nodes gain size in the first stage due to the sudden increase in lymphocyte numbers. The risk factor is low because the disease has yet to spread to other parts of the body.

Stage 2:

At this stage, excessive inflation is shown in the lymph nodes, spleen and liver. The stage also features uncontrolled lymphocyte growth.

Stage 3:

This spreads cancer to at least two of the organs involved–lymph nodes, spleen and liver–and the risk factor increases.

Stage 4:

Blood platelet production is rapidly diminishing, cancer is spreading to other organs, including lungs, and anaemia is becoming acute.

At this stage the risk factor is reaching criticality.

That’s not all….

 

Is blood cancer curable?

It depends on the type of cancer of the blood.

Children most frequently suffering from blood cancer have acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

They have a rate of cure that exceeds 90 %. However, they have a very low rate of cure when adults get this.

Some blood cancers such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia and myeloma are not necessarily curable, but patients may live decades, sometimes without therapy or with minimal therapy.

Chronic myelogenous leukemia now has a very high rate of remission with inhibitors of tyrosine kinase blocking the BCL-ABR and unlimited life expectancy.

Leukemia is Curable

In younger adults and rarely in older adults, acute myelogenous leukemia is curable.

Whether this can be cured rather than the amount of leukemia at the time of diagnosis, genomic factors play a greater role.

But According to the scientist research there is no better way to prevent most types of (Blood Cancer), however we can reduce the risk by:

  • Avoiding high doses of radiation.
  • Intake of proper Nutrition & staying physically active.
  • Reducing exposure to chemicals like benzene.
  • Quitting Smoking and tobacco.

Blood cancer treatment

Blood cancer treatments may include:

  • Stem cell (bone marrow) transplantation
  • Immunotherapy
  • Chemotherapy

Blood cancer treatment

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Treatment types

There are many potential treatments for Blood cancer. You may hear the terms or phrases used to describe blood cancer treatment as follows:

Intensive treatment / treatment with high intensity

Intensive treatment means strong treatments. This often means using strong drugs to try to kill or stop blood cancer cells from spreading.

The main types of intensive blood cancer treatment are: standard or high-dose chemotherapy: using cell-killing drugs to kill cancer cells and stop them from multiplying.

Stem cell transplant: have high doses of chemotherapy to kill abnormal cells in your bone marrow or lymph nodes, then receive new blood stem cells (either your own or from a donor) through a drip.

The goal is to start producing healthy blood cells in these new stem cells.

Some types of biological therapy / immunotherapy / monoclonal antibodies: drugs that promote the fight against cancer cells in your immune system.

Radiotherapy: using high-energy rays to kill cancer cells in a specific area (mostly used for lymphoma treatment).

Surgery: you may rarely receive a splenectomy (removing your spleen).

Non-intensive & low-intensity therapy

Non-intensive therapies like lower-dose chemotherapy are usually more gentle and cause less side effects.

Most of the time, these treatments will not cure the cancer, but they can help keep you in remission or manage your symptoms for a long time.

Blood Cancer Curative treatment

This means treatment aimed at curing cancer of the blood.

If your medical team feels unlikely to cope with strong therapies, they can offer you some gentler non-curative therapies that can give you a good quality of life and better outlook with less risk or side effects.

Non-curative treatments

This means treatment aimed at reducing cancer of the blood, keeping you in remission, or managing your symptoms, rather than curing cancer.

Non-curative therapy can be either strong (intensive / high intensity) or milder (less intensive / low intensity).

Bottom line? is

Watching and Waiting

One type of treatment is called watching and waiting for some people with certain types of slow-developing blood cancer (you may also hear it called’ watchful waiting’ or’ active monitoring’).

This means you are not going to start treatment immediately, but you are going to have regular blood tests and appointments where you will be closely monitored for any changes.

If and when you need it, you will only start treatment–usually low or standard chemotherapy doses.

 

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