Dr Shrinath Kshirsagar, Haematologist, Global Hospital, Mumbai, gives insights on the types of cancers, their treatments and prevention
Blood cancer can be described as the type of cancer that tends to affect the production and function of one’s blood cells. Likewise, this cancer begins in the bone marrow which is an integral source of blood production. Did you know? Stem cells in the bone marrow mature and tend to develop into three types of blood cells namely red blood cells, white blood cells or platelets. If one suffers from blood cancer then the blood production process gets interrupted owing to the proliferation of abnormal cancer cells.
Types of blood cancer
There are three main types of blood cancer such as leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Leukemia can be termed as cancer that one can suffer from owing to the rapid production of abnormal cancer cells in the bone marrow. Thus, due to the abnormal cancer cells, the bone marrow’s ability of the production of red blood cells and platelets gets affected. Lymphoma affects the lymphatic system that is responsible for the removal of excess fluids from the body and to produce immune cells. Lymphocytes can be described as the type of white blood cell which helps in fighting infection. Thus, abnormal lymphocytes become lymphoma cells which tend to grow uncontrollably in the lymph nodes and also the other tissues. Likewise, myeloma is known as a type of blood cancer that tends to affect the plasma cells that are present in bone marrow. These plasma cells are responsible for the production of disease-fighting antibodies in the body. Furthermore, it affects the production of plasma cells that can weaken one’s immune system.
Causes and symptoms
Certain infections, ageing, weak immune system and family history can raise your risk of blood cancer. Also, if your loved one has blood cancer, then be watchful of symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, shortness of breath, bleeding gums, recurrent infections and fever, unintentional weight loss, sweating, abdominal pain, bone pain, confusion, lymph node enlargement, headache, rashes on dark spots and difficulty while urinating. Once you notice these symptoms, don’t forget to consult your doctor immediately.
Early diagnosis is the key
You will be asked to undergo blood tests, bone marrow exam, CT scan/PET scan/ X-ray. Your physical examination will be carried out thoroughly. Staging of cancer with risk stratification will be done, and the stage and the risk will be determined. Hence, one shouldn’t delay and late diagnosis can lead to death. This is so because diagnosing cancer in the later stage and the lack of treatment can lead to unnecessary suffering and early death. Early diagnosis can improve survival rates here. To spread awareness, regarding early diagnosis, people should be educated regarding various symptoms of blood cancer and seek timely treatment. Moreover, make sure that the people with cancer have an access to safe and effective treatment that also includes pain relief.
Effective screening methods should be implemented in the early diagnosis of blood cancer that can help save lives. People should not miss the routine check-ups and tests to rule out blood cancer. Discuss your symptoms openly with the expert without worrying. This is so because if the cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, when it hasn’t spread, then it can be tackled. If the cancer spreads, then the effective treatment may not work as well in early stage.