Bone Marrow Cancer: Causes And Treatment
Ever wondered how our blood cells are produced? Let’s know about bone marrow. Bone marrow is nothing but the centre spongy part of our bones. The stem cells produced by the bone marrow turn into our major blood cells.
Most of the blood cancers develop in the bone marrow. Let’s discuss bone marrow cancer causes and treatment.
What is Bone marrow cancer?
Bone marrow cancer is cancer that forms in the bone marrow. The three main types of it are Multiple myeloma, Leukaemia and Lymphoma. The most common among them is multiple myeloma.
Multiple myeloma occurs when plasma cells are overproduced. Plasma cells produce antibodies to fight infection. Leukaemia is another bone marrow cancer that usually occurs due to the overproduction of white blood cells, a main part of the immune system. Lymphoma, a type of blood cancer, also sometimes begins in the bone marrow.
Cancer in the bone marrow leads to a shortage of healthy blood cells. This leads to an increased risk for infections, bleeding, and anaemia. Bone pain, appetite changes, tiredness, weakness in legs, unexplained weight loss, excessive thirst, and night sweats are its common symptoms.
Bone marrow cancer causes:
Researchers still do not know what are exact bone marrow cancer causes. However, there are some risk factors that can increase a person’s chance of developing this cancer.
- Age: People diagnosed with this cancer are usually 60 years and older. Only a few cases occur in people under 40.
- Gender: Men are more likely to develop bone marrow cancers than women.
- Family history: If your family member especially, a parent or sibling, is diagnosed with this cancer, you may be at high risk for developing cancer.
- Obesity: Being overweight increases the risk of developing this cancer.
- Previous cancer therapy: If you have undergone any types of radiation therapy or chemotherapy, you may be likely to develop cancers in the bone marrow.
- Chemicals: Exposure to chemicals such as benzene, asbestos, and pesticides increase the risk. People who work in rubber manufacturing, furniture making, paper making, and firefighters are also at increased risk.
- Disorders: Plasma disorders such as MGUS (monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance) and genetic disorders such as down syndrome can increase the risk of bone marrow cancer.
- Smoking: It increases your risk for bone marrow cancer.
Bone marrow cancer treatment:
Bone marrow cancer treatment is based on various factors. One or more of the following therapies will be given based on the general health, type and stage of cancer.
Chemotherapy uses the drugs to kill cancer cells. Often, the drugs are given directly into a vein (IV) in chemotherapy. Tablets, liquids, etc., can also be prescribed. In this bone marrow cancer treatment, single or combination of drugs will be given depending on the type of cancer. It may also be given with other treatments such as radiation therapy and targeted therapy.
Like chemotherapy, targeted therapy can be given as injections or tablets. Cancer cells need certain molecules to survive, mostly in the form of proteins. These proteins are produced by cancer-causing genes. Targeted therapies are intended to interfere with these molecules or genes in cancer cells and stop the growth and spread of cancer.
Radiation treatment involves the use of high-energy x-rays to kill cancer cells. These rays will be aimed at the part of the body where you have cancer cells. Physicians may recommend radiation therapy when chemotherapy fails to control bone pain. This bone marrow cancer treatment lessens the risk of fractured bones and provides quick pain relief.
Bone marrow transplant:
Bone marrow transplant is the procedure in which the damaged bone marrow cells are replaced with healthy blood-forming cells. Initially, high dose chemotherapy will be given to kill off the damaged bone marrow cells. After this, the healthy blood-forming cells collected from the patient or donor will be given as an infusion. These cells grow and create a healthy bone marrow.
This bone marrow cancer treatment triggers your body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. Usually, cancer cells protect themselves from the immune system in certain ways. The proteins present on the surface of cancer cells turn off the immune cells, and also genetic changes in the cancer cells make them less visible to the immune system.
Immunotherapy helps the immune system to fight against cancer. There are many types of immunotherapies. They are also given as iv, oral or topical drugs.
How to lower the cancer progress or cancer recurrence?
If you have been diagnosed with or undergoing treatment for bone marrow cancer, you probably want to know what you can do to reduce the risk of cancer growing. So far, there are no proven things to reduce cancer recurrence or progress. Sticking to healthy behaviours such as regular physical activity, healthy weight, eating well, and not smoking may help you.