Blood Cancer Awareness Month
Shining A Light On Blood Cancer Awareness Month
September is a month to raise awareness about blood cancer and support those affected. Cancer that occurs in the bone marrow and affects the blood cells is called blood cancer. In blood cancer, the blood cells start dividing and multiplying abnormally. These abnormal blood cells prevent the blood from performing normal functions like fighting infections and preventing bleeding. Blood cancers are usually caused due to mutations (changes) in the DNA of the blood cells.
History Of Blood Cancer Awareness Month
It was observed every September and originated as a grassroots effort by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in the United States in the early 2000s. Its purpose was to shed light on the various forms of blood cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, and to raise awareness about the urgent need for research, improved treatments, and support for patients and their families. Over the years, the observance has grown into a global movement, with numerous organizations and individuals joining forces to educate the public, provide resources, and advocate for the advancement of blood cancer research and care, making it a vital campaign in the fight against these diseases.
Significance Of Blood Cancer Awareness Month
This awareness month holds significant importance as it is a dedicated period to spotlight the prevalence and impact of blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, on individuals and communities worldwide. It plays a crucial role in raising public awareness about these often devastating diseases, encouraging early detection, fostering solidarity among patients and their families, mobilizing support for research initiatives, and ultimately improving the outcomes and quality of life for those affected by blood cancers. This awareness month catalyzes advocacy, education, and fundraising efforts that contribute to advancements in treatment and the quest for a cure, offering hope and resources to countless individuals affected by these challenging conditions.
What Are The Types Of Blood Cancers?
There are three major blood cancer types. They are
- Leukemia: It is a type of cancer characterized by the abnormal production of white blood cells in the bone marrow. These white blood cells produced don't function properly.
- Lymphoma: Lymphoma occurs in the white blood cells known as lymphocytes in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system includes the lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus.
- Myeloma: It is a cancer that occurs in the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Since this cancer is in various parts of the bone marrow, it is also known as multiple myeloma.
What Are The Causes Of Blood Cancer?
The exact causes of blood cancer are not known. However, there are certain risk factors of blood cancers. These risk factors include
- Family history
- Exposure to radiation or certain chemicals like benzene
- Weakened immune system
- Any history of cancer
- Blood disorders like myelodysplasia or polycythemia vera
- Having genetic disorders like Down syndrome
Symptoms Of Blood Cancer
The common blood cancer symptoms include
- Fatigue and weakness
- Persistent fever
- Night sweats
- Bone and joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, or groin
- Unexplained and sudden weight loss
- Frequent infections
- Loss of appetite in cancer
- Nausea, headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Skin rash and itching
Prevention Of Blood Cancer
Although certain factors are not in our control and cannot help prevent blood cancer, a few risk factors can be avoided to prevent the risk of developing blood cancers. Certain preventive measures like avoiding exposure to chemicals like benzene, not smoking, avoiding radiation exposure, and making lifestyle changes like eating a healthy balanced diet and staying physically active can aid in reducing the risk of developing blood cancer.
As a cancer survivor, there are many physical and emotional changes that the patient experiences. Cancer and its treatment greatly affect the patient's overall health. Certain tips that might come in handy for cancer survivors include
- Taking adequate rest as the body might be tired and weak from cancer and its treatment.
- Eating a healthy balanced diet as the patient might experience common problems like appetite loss and trouble eating or swallowing.
- Doing mild exercises, like a simple 10-minute walk. However, it is essential to consult the doctor before starting any exercise regime.
- Protecting the body from infections. This can be discussed with the doctor.
- Counseling and therapy can be taken to help deal with emotions like stress, anger, anxiety, fear, and depression.
The Final Note
Being diagnosed with blood cancer can be terrifying, often due to the misconception that it's incurable. However, this is not true. Early detection and treatment can lead to a cure or remission for certain blood cancers. Treatment options include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, targeted therapy, CAR T-cell therapy, and stem cell/bone marrow transplantation. The choice of treatment depends on the patient's type, stage, and overall health. On blood cancer awareness month 2023, let's educate our family and friends about the risk factors, symptoms, and the importance of regular testing to promote early detection and better outcomes in the fight against blood cancers. Together, we can dispel myths and offer hope to those facing these challenges.