Blood cancer may or may not be familiar to the average person. According to the National Cancer Institute in the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program, this type of cancer represents an estimated 3.4% percent of new cancer cases in the United States this year. An estimate of 178,520 people in the US is expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma in 2020. September was named the official Blood Cancer Awareness month, which is dedicated to spreading information on the disease and its causes. Here is a rundown of the things you need to know about blood cancer.
What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancer, also known as hematologic cancer, starts development in the bone marrow where blood is produced. Blood cells are the body’s defense mechanism towards infection and they normally would continuously produce new blood cells. Someone with blood cancer would have abnormal white blood cells in their body grow out of control, which in turn disrupts functioning normal blood cells and hinders the bone marrow’s ability to produce more red blood cells.
One person is diagnosed every 3 minutes with some form of blood cancer, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. This type of cancer mostly affects people of old age.
Causes of Blood Cancer
Much like other forms of cancer, the specific cause of blood cancer is still unknown. However, there are several factors that are associated with the disease. Factors such as aging, family history, previous infections, or a weak immune system were common in patients diagnosed with the different forms of blood cancer.
Blood Cancer: Common Symptoms
It is difficult to tell first glance whether or not you may have some form of blood cancer. Some tests would have to be performed in order to fully confirm a diagnosis. However, there are some tell-tale symptoms that one can look out for. These include:
- Fever or body chills
- Frequent infections
- Skin rash
- Loss of appetite
- Chest pain
- Night sweats
- Constant weakness and fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits, or groin
Not all symptoms would necessarily point to blood cancer, and not all blood cancer patients will experience every one of them. The experience differs in every patient according to the type of blood cancer they possess.
3 Types of Blood Cancer
Leukemia is one of the better-known types of blood cancer and is the most common. This type of blood cancer starts in the bone marrow where a cell undergoes a change and turns into a leukemia cell. These cells then grow and eventually outnumber the normal cells and survive longer. The span of time in which leukemia cells grow depends on the type of leukemia a person possesses.
Types of Leukemia:
- Acute lymphoblastic leukemia – a type of leukemia is the most common among children. The disease spreads rapidly and cells produced are immature rather than mature. It can also occur in some adults.
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) – a fast-growing form of leukemia
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) – a slow-growing form of cancer
- Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) – starts at the marrow, then spreads to the blood, and eventually the whole body.
- Hairy cell leukemia (HCL) – a subtype of chronic lymphocytic leukemia with slow progression
- Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML)
- Large granular lymphocytic leukemia (LGL)
- Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML)
- B-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (B-PLL)
- T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (T-PLL)
Lymphoma starts in the lymphocytes, the cells that fight infection in the immune system. These cells can be found everywhere in the body: bone marrow, spleen, lymph nodes, and many more. With this disease, lymphocytes begin to evolve and eventually increase rapidly.
Types of Lymphoma:
- Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma – the most common type of lymphoma. This cancer starts in your lymphatic system, developing tumors on the lymphocytes.
- Hodgkin – a type of lymphoma where swollen lymph nodes appear on the neck, groin, or under the arm.
Myeloma is a type of blood cancer where the body produces more plasma cells which become cancerous and they eventually multiply. Not only will it be damaging to the immune system, but it may also affect the red blood cell count, kidneys, and bones.
Blood Cancer Prevention
Since there is no definitive cause of blood cancer, there is no definite way to determine how to prevent the disease. However, one can decrease their risk by adopting the following recommendations:
- Avoid being exposed to harmful chemicals found in everyday items. Pesticides, for one, was linked by studies to have a harmful effect on children and pregnant women. Inhalation of the toxic chemicals found in them may be a cause for childhood leukemia. Benzene, a chemical found commonly in gasoline fumes, is also classified as carcinogenic to humans and is linked to leukemia.
- Refrain from smoking tobacco. This can also put one at risk of blood cancer as cigarette smoke can weaken the immune system, making the body susceptible to this disease. It is mostly linked to acute myeloid leukemia, one of the faster-growing blood cancers with life-threatening effects. The 5-year survival rate is approximately 25 percent for adults 20 years and older. Furthermore, smoking can be the cause of 15 other types of cancer.
- Live a healthy and active lifestyle. Eating a well-balanced diet and staying active through regular exercise can help boost the body’s resistance to many types of diseases and strengthen the immune system.
Healing at New Hope Medical Center
Blood cancer is not an easy opponent to beat. However, it is not impossible to come out as a survivor from it. If you or a loved one are looking for a treatment that could potentially reduce the severity of the condition, then get in touch with the New Hope Medical Center. With alternative medical treatments that center on personal care for each patient, the New Hope Medical Center medical team can help improve your health as a whole. Contact us to learn more about the services and treatments we offer.