Blood cancers typically start in bone marrow. Blood is produced in the bone marrow. When abnormal cells begin to grow out of control, the normal function of blood cells is interrupted. These cells help fight infections while creating new cells, so any disruption is a cause for concern.
What are the Early Symptoms of Blood Cancer?
While there are three types of blood cancers, many symptoms are common to all. The three types of blood cancers are Leukemia, Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and Multiple Myeloma.
- Persistent fatigue and general weakness
- Fever and chills
- Nausea and loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Joint and bone pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Frequent headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Skin rash or itchy skin
- Swollen lymph nodes
The lymph nodes are part of the lymphatic system; swelling may be noticed in the neck, groin, or armpits. This is the system which provides fluids throughout the body and helps eliminate waste.
Patients can check for swelling themselves by using a gentle circular motion to look for small lumps on either side of the neck, in the armpits, and the groin.
Whether lumps are found or not, make an appointment with your primary care physician if you notice any of the above symptoms.
Are Certain Blood Types at Greater Risk for Cancer?
In a Harvard study, researchers did find that certain blood types had a greater risk of developing certain types of cancer. It found largely that persons with Type O blood had the lowest risk of developing certain cancers, but the risk difference was modest.
However, because the only difference between Type O and other blood types is the placement of sugar molecules on what is termed the H antigen, the research took another turn. In fact, many now believe that understanding the role of sugar in the diet is key to controlling cancer.
How Do Physicians Detect Blood Cancer?
When blood cancer is suspected, a series of lab tests are the first step in detection. Our medical lab will test blood, urine, and other samples. Some of the tests will include:
- CBC – The Complete Blood Count is a test which will measure the types of blood cells present.
- Blood protein testing looks for abnormal immune system proteins called immunoglobulins. These may be elevated when multiple myeloma is present.
- Tumor marker test – certain chemicals made by tumors can be detected in the blood.
- Bone Marrow Biopsy – In the event that the initial tests return abnormal results, a bone marrow biopsy may be ordered to confirm a diagnosis.
The biopsy is the primary way of obtaining a definitive diagnosis. A sample will be removed and inspected under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present.
How Long Can Someone Live with Leukemia?
As one of the most common forms of blood cancer, most with the diagnosis want to know their life expectancy.
This largely depends on whether the leukemia is acute or chronic. Patients diagnosed with chronic forms of leukemia have the best prognosis; many live several years with proper treatments.
Is Blood Cancer Curable and What Are Treatment Options?
Common treatments for blood cancers include:
- Chemotherapy, which uses anticancer drugs to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells. Often, the medications delivered are provided as a regimen, that is, several drugs in combination. A common means of delivering these treatments is via Infusion Therapy.
- Radiation Therapy is used to destroy cancer cells and may ease some of the pain and discomfort associated with the disease.
- Stem cell transplants infuse healthy blood stem cells into the body in an effort to increase the ratio of healthy to unhealthy cells.
Some blood cancers such as Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma are considered curable. Success rates improve with early detection. Even in certain leukemia and myeloma cases, patients have lived well beyond the traditional 5-year mark.
You may also like to read: How Quickly Does Cancer Grow?
This is important because it shows that treatments are becoming more effective. Although Leukemia and Myeloma are still not curable, remission has occurred in some patients.
Kymera. Founded to Fight Blood Cancer.
In 1998, Dr. Masoud Khorsand of Roswell, New Mexico started his practice treating patients with blood cancers. A Hematologist–Oncologist, he continues to take an active role in both treating blood cancer patients and conducting research to end this disease. In fact, Kymera continues to work closely with numerous research organizations to improve treatments and outcomes for patients with blood cancers.
If you believe you or someone you love may have a blood cancer, make an appointment with Kymera Independent Physicians today. We have three convenient locations to serve the residents of SENM including Hobbs, Artesia, Carlsbad, Roswell, and surrounding communities.