Blood cancer is one of the most harmful and life taking diseases. Blood cancer refers to the state in which the growth of unwanted cells occurs. It refrains the blood cells from their functions such as clotting and immunity against infections. These unwanted cells develop at a specific rate which tells how much severe the condition is. There are different types of Blood cancers: Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma. Before we dive into the types of blood cancer we should know the constituents of blood.
Constituents of Blood
The blood consists of four major components. All of them have a specific function. The four components are,
- Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)
- White Blood Cells (Leukocytes)
- Platelets (Thrombocytes)
Red Blood Cells (Erythrocytes)
The function of Red blood cells is to carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. It is red due to the presence of a protein called Haemoglobin. It is about 40% of the blood volume. Cells produce energy by consuming oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. The expelled Carbon dioxide is carried to the lungs by these cells.
White Blood Cells (Leukocytes)
White blood cells are lesser in quantity. The White blood cell to Red blood cell ratio is 1:600. They protect us against infections.
Platelets are also less in number as compared to red blood cells. For every twenty blood cells, there is one platelet. Its function is to clot the blood. In case of bleeding from cuts, it helps to clot the blood to stop bleeding.
It is the liquid portion of blood in which all the above constituents are present. It contains antibodies to defend against viruses, cancer cells, bacteria and the removal waste of metabolism.
Bone marrow is a semi-fluid tissue where the production of new cells occurs. It contains stem cells that are transformed into any type of cell according to need. It is present in some bones such as your hip bone. Stem cells converted into Red blood cells, White blood cells or Platelets.
Types of Blood Cancer:
There are three major types of blood cancer. We’ll discuss each of them one by one.
Leukemia is concerned with White blood cells. White blood cells are produced in the bone marrow by the transformation of the stem cells. Leukemia starts from bone marrow. Due to it, abnormal and unwanted White blood cells are produced. Such white blood cells cannot work properly. There is excess growth of white blood cells due to which there will be fewer Red blood cells and Platelets. Therefore, it affects the functions of organs. If there is a deficiency of red blood cells, then there will be less supply of oxygen to all parts of the body. According to statistics, 24,000 people die of Leukemia each year in the U.S.
Lymphoma affects a special type of White blood cells called lymphocytes. These cells are responsible for immunity. Due to Lymphoma, these cells grow out of control and live longer than the normal lymphocyte. It can spread to other organs of the body including bone marrow, spleen, etc. Lymphoma is treatable, and the survival rate is good.
This type of blood cancer is related to Plasma. In Myeloma, abnormal Plasma cells grow in the bone marrow which cannot perform as normal plasma. The plasma cells begin to grow out of control. It can create a shortage of Red blood cells and platelets. The immune system of the affected person becomes weak.
Symptoms of Blood Cancer:
There are different types of blood cancer but all of them have some common symptoms. It is not necessary that these symptoms appear at the start. These symptoms may be noticed only at the critical stage as well.
- Weakness and Fatigue
- Bone pain
- Chest pain or coughing
- Rashes on skin
- Frequent infections
- Unexpected Weight Loss
- Night Sweats
- Asthma or Bronchitis
Causes of Blood Cancer
If you have gone through radiation therapy to treat any type of cancer, then these radiations can cause blood cancer. The people who work at the nuclear site are at high risk of blood cancer. Nuclear radiations increase the risk of blood cancer.
If your blood relatives are having blood cancer, then there is a greater probability of having blood cancer.
Your genes can be the cause of blood cancer. A person inherits several syndromes which may cause blood cancer.
The drugs which contain platinum and alkyl agents can cause blood cancer. Usually, these types of drugs are used for chemotherapy.
Benzene can be the cause of blood cancer. It is present in detergents and other cleaning products. Many chemical factories use benzene to manufacture different products; therefore, the workers are at high risk of blood cancer.
Treatment of Blood Cancer
Chemotherapy means killing of cancer cells and treating cancer using drugs. It can prevent the growth of cancer cells. Treating with drugs is effective for the whole body as compared to surgery. It has adverse effects as well such as hair loss, nausea, fatigue, short term memory, digestive problems, etc. The patient needs rest after the treatment to heal or recover.
It uses radiation to damage to damage the DNA of cancer cells. It uses high energy X-rays to kill abnormal cells. This will reduce the growth of cells. It can prevent cancer from returning. It kills the unwanted cells but at the same time, it can damage healthy cells as well. There can be digestion and throat problems. Sometime radiations are given to a specific part of the body. When radiation is given to the whole body, then it is called Total Body Irradiation.
Stem Cell Transplant
In this method, the cancer cells are killed by Chemotherapy or Radiotherapy. After killing the cells new stem cells are taken from a donor. The new stem cells will produce healthy and required blood cells.
It is a very rare treatment of cancer because the organ is removed in the process. You cannot remove any organ that is essential for living. Normally spleen is removed from the body if it is affected. The spleen helps to fight infections and filters old cells. A person can survive without a spleen, but the risks of infections are increased. The surgical procedure to remove the spleen is called Splenectomy.