What is blood cancer?Blood cancer is a complex and often misunderstood disease. It affects the production and function of blood cells, hindering the body's ability to fight off infections and diseases. In this blog post, we delve into an enlightening online interview with a renowned hematologist to explore the causes, signs, and treatment of blood cancer.
Understanding Blood CancerBlood cancer begins in the bone marrow where blood is produced. It occurs when abnormal blood cells start growing out of control, interrupting the function of normal blood cells which fight off infection and produce new blood cells. The three main types of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Leukemia is a type of cancer found in your blood and bone marrow and is caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. Lymphoma affects the lymphatic system which removes excess fluids from your body and produces immune cells. Myeloma targets plasma cells - a type of white blood cell that produces disease- and infection-fighting antibodies.
What are the causes of Blood Cancer?The exact cause of most blood cancers is unknown. However, several factors increase the risk of developing these diseases. They include exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene or to radiation therapy for certain types of cancers; genetic disorders like Down syndrome; human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV); smoking; a family history of blood cancers; certain chemotherapy drugs used for other cancers; age (most cases occur in people over 55); or having had a previous cancer.
Signs & Symptoms
The symptoms can vary depending on the type of blood cancer but there are common signs that should prompt you to seek medical attention. These include the following:
1. fatigue or weakness
2. Fever or chills
3. Unexplained weight loss
4. Frequent infections
5. Swollen lymph nodes in your neck, underarms or groin
6. Excessive sweating especially at night
7. Bone pain or tenderness
8. Easy bruising or bleeding
It's important to note that these symptoms can also be caused by conditions other than blood cancer. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's crucial to consult your healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis.
Treatment of Blood Cancer
The treatment for blood cancer depends on the type of cancer, the patient's age, how fast the cancer is progressing, and where the cancer has spread. Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, or a combination of these.
Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill cancer cells or stop them from growing. Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells. Stem cell transplantation involves replacing diseased bone marrow with healthy stem cells that help your body make enough white blood cells, red blood cells or platelets.
Immunotherapy uses antibodies made in a lab designed to boost your body's natural defenses to fight the cancer. Targeted therapy uses drugs or other substances that block the growth and spread of cancer by interfering with specific molecules ("molecular targets") that are involved in the growth, progression, and spread of cancer.
Blood cancers are serious diseases that require immediate attention and treatment
Awareness about their causes and signs is crucial for early detection and effective treatment. If you suspect you may have symptoms related to blood cancers, seek medical advice immediately.
Remember: early detection can significantly improve your chances of survival and recovery. Stay informed about blood cancers – it could save your life or the life of someone you love.
This online interview has provided us with valuable insights into understanding blood cancers better. However, it is essential always to consult with healthcare professionals for personalised advice based on individual health conditions.