Symptoms, causes, types and treatment of blood cancer | Updated 2023
Blood cancer is a broader term that refers to cancers that directly attack the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. There are three types of blood cancer, namely leukemia, which results from the uncontrolled production of abnormal white blood cells, lymphoma, which affects the lymphatic system, and myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells that help produce antibodies. Blood cancer treatment is given based on blood cancer types, stages and blood cancer symptoms. If one observes a risk factor, one should consult a doctor immediately (Best Blood Cancer Hospital in India).
Of all blood cancers, this is one of the most common types of blood cancer. This type of blood cancer produces an abnormally high number of immature white blood cells that accumulate in your bone marrow, blocking it and preventing it from making red blood cells and platelets, which are very important for a balanced immune system and healthy blood.
There are two categories of leukemia:
Acute leukemia, which develops very suddenly and should be treated urgently; Chronic leukemia progresses more slowly, over months or years.
There are four main types of leukemia:
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML):
It’s most common in people over 70, although people of any age can get it.
- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL):
This is the most common type of childhood leukemia. About half of the cases affect adults and the other half children.
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML):
It’s also a fairly rare condition, affecting only about 700 people each year.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL):
Doctors diagnose just over 3,400 people with CLL each year. It’s more common if you’re over 60 and it’s very rare in people under 40.
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML):
There are 3 types of blood cancer, one of which is lymphoma. This type of blood cancer attacks your lymphatic system, which is responsible for protecting your body from infection and disease, making it an important part of your immune system. Lymphoma is an abnormally high growth of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. These lymphocytes tend to live longer than they should and this excessive amount of lymphocytes affects your immune system. Lymphoma affects various organs in your body, including your lymph nodes, bone marrow, blood, spleen, and other organs.The two main types of lymphoma are:
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL):
Most lymphomas are NHL. It’s more common in older people — about 50% of people diagnosed with NHL are over the age of 70.
- Hodgkin lymphoma (formerly called Hodgkin disease):
This is less common, and about 1,900 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma each year. Hodgkin lymphoma can develop at any age, but it is most common in young adults and in older men and women.
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL):
Myeloma affects plasma cells that are found in the bone marrow and are responsible for producing antibodies to fight infection. In this type of blood cancer, the growth of abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow is abnormal, which limits the production of antibodies, which are very important for our immune system
stages of blood cancer
Stages are classified based on metastasis. They can be determined based on blood cancer symptoms and rate. There are different scales to determine different stages depending on symptoms and metastatic growth. Metastasis occurs when cancer spreads from one organ to another organ that is not directly related to it. Blood cancer is curable depending on the patient’s condition.
Mainly, the cancer stages have been divided into four parts:
- stage 1
Lymph nodes become enlarged due to the sudden increase in the number of lymphocytes. This stage is less risky and curable compared to others because metastasis growth has not fully started at this stage.
- Level 2
The spleen, liver and lymph nodes enlarge like organs. Not all organs are affected at the same time, but one of those organs is definitely affected.
- level 3
At this stage, the patient develops anemia and organs such as the spleen, liver, and lymph nodes are affected. More than two organs are certainly affected.
- Level 4
This is the last stage where the chance of death is very high because platelets tend to decrease very quickly. The lungs and other vital organs are also attacked by the cancer cells.
Symptoms of blood cancer
While there are few common blood cancer symptoms, few are type specific and can serve as hallmarks. The general blood cancer symptoms usually take the form of Fever, chills, constant tiredness, nausea and vomiting. Cancer is remarkably detected with an inexplicable Weight loss with severe loss of appetite. Headaches and shortness of breath are also common, and frequent infections reflect the general decline in body immunity. Easy bleeding or bruising is the hallmark of blood cancer, along with other blood cancer symptoms that should warrant an immediate appointment with a doctor.
Common symptoms of blood cancer are:
- fever, chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- loss of appetite, nausea
- Unexplained weight loss
- night sweats
- Bone/joint pain
- stomach pain
- shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Itchy skin or rash
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, groin
However, only a few side effects help the doctor to recognize them Subtype of this cancer:
Blood cancer symptoms indicative of leukemia
Acute leukemia is represented by acute destruction of RBCs, resulting in blood loss that causes anemia, weakness, and extreme fatigue.
Blood cancer symptoms that indicate lymphoma
Swollen lymph nodes with little or no pain are characteristic of this type of cancer.
Blood cancer symptoms that indicate myeloma
The early stages usually go unnoticed with not many blood cancer symptoms, followed by the routine symptoms of persistent fatigue, frequent infections, and shortness of breath. Long-term blood cancer symptoms can be associated with associated kidney problems, which are further validated by blood tests that show abnormal clusters of plasma cells.
You may have some blood cancer symptoms that require immediate medical attention, including:
- Heavy and uncontrolled bleeding
- Loss of neural acuity and consciousness in the face of stages of delirium, lethargy, unresponsiveness, seizures
- Bluish discoloration of the lips or fingernails
- Severe abdominal and/or chest pain with shortness of breath
- Fast heart rate
The factors that could increase the risk of developing this cancer
- high age
- family history
- Prior exposure to radiation/chemotherapy or carcinogenic substances and chemicals
- A weakened immune system due to conditions such as HIV/AIDS, taking corticosteroids, or having an organ transplant
- History of Organ Transplantation
Treatment options for blood cancer
Depending on the type and stage of the blood cancer, a trusted oncologist will recommend icrmc.org would recommend various treatment options for blood cancer to the patient, but all aim to permanently cure the cancer or induce remission of the disease.
- biological therapy
It helps attack the cancer cells directly or indirectly stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells.
Chemotherapy involves the administration of drugs that specifically treat cancer and may involve a single drug or many drugs in combination, depending on the stage. It facilitates remission and delays the progression of blood cancer. Chemotherapy is non-selective and can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, eventually leading to side effects like nausea, fatigue, and hair loss. Chemotherapy also serves as a prelude to bone marrow/stem cell transplantation.
Radiation therapy delivers high-energy X-rays to specific areas to kill cancer cells. Targeted irradiation of the right region of the body with the right amount of radiation is decisive for the success of radiation therapy.
- stem cell transplant
Also known as a bone marrow transplant, it helps replace unhealthy blood-forming cells with healthy cells. It is usually recommended when all preliminary treatment options are no longer suitable for the patient’s treatment. It involves giving very high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to kill stem cells in the bone marrow. Healthy cells from the donor then replace them.
Alternative treatment options for blood cancer
This procedure to treat blood cancer uses fine, sterile needles that are placed in specific parts of the body. Acupuncture helps patients address the side effects of cancer therapies. It helps treat pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, neuropathy, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders.
- message therapy
The extended benefits are similar to acupuncture. These are performed by a qualified and certified massage therapist who specializes in dealing with cancer patients.
It aids in potential detoxification by eliminating toxin build-up during cancer therapy. Yoga postures also stimulate blood and lymph flow and can boost the body’s overall immunity.
Aside from the routine therapy recommended to the patient, few complementary blood cancer treatment options can help improve quality of life. These include:
- Antibiotics to reduce the risk of infection
- Medicines used to treat nausea, vomiting and pain
- Blood transfusion to reduce the number of blood cells
Researchers have developed a remedy in which a drug helps block the release of abnormal enzymes, or cells, that are responsible for blood cancer metastasis. Excess protein is also held responsible for the enlargement and proliferation of cancer cells and can also be reduced by the drugs being researched.
“Narayana Hrudayalaya Bangalore provides advanced cancer treatments for patients who need specialized care.”
dr Sunil K Gupta, Senior Consultant, talks about the treatment, types and symptoms of blood cancer in this video.
This article has been reviewed by highly experienced and reputable doctors below Aster CMI Hospital, Bangalore.
Also Read: How to Prevent Breast Cancer Naturally.