Understand Blood Cancer Stages & 3 Main Types of Blood Cancer
Blood cancer accounts for approximately 6% of all cancer cases worldwide. Blood cancers are also known as hematologic cancers. Let’s discuss blood cancer stages, and three major types of blood cancer in the upcoming content.
What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancers are characterized by abnormal and uncontrolled production of blood cells. Our blood consists of red blood cells, white blood cells, platelets and plasma. Each component of the blood performs various functions in our body.
The abnormal cells in blood cancer can stop the blood from doing its normal functions like fighting against infections, prevention of bleeding, transportation of nutrients and oxygen to the body tissues, etc. Blood cancers typically start in the bone marrow, the softer centre of various bones where the blood is produced.
Blood cancers are described as chronic, which are slow-growing, and as acute, which are fast-growing cancers. The symptoms differ for each type of blood cancer. The common symptoms that all types of blood cancer share are tiredness, pale complexion, unexplained rash, bleeding, infections, lumps and swelling, bone pain, drenching night sweats, stomach problems, and weight loss.
Types of Blood Cancer:
There are many types of blood cancer which are categorised based on type of blood cells, how the condition develops, origin of cancer, symptoms, etc. The chief three types of blood cancer are:
Leukaemia is a cancer of blood and bone marrow which occurs due to the overproduction of white blood cells. White blood cells help the body fight infections and diseases. The abnormal white blood cells impair the ability of bone marrow in producing red blood cells and platelets. There are various types of leukaemia based on the type of blood cells affected.
Leukaemia can affect both adults and children. Usually, the patients diagnosed with leukaemia are 65 years and older. Men are more likely to develop leukaemia than women. Leukaemia is the most common cancer affecting children.
Lymphoma refers to the cancers that develop in the lymphatic system, a part of the immune system. In this condition, the specialized white blood cells called lymphocytes, that fight infection, multiply out of control. Over time, these lymphoma cells impair your immune system.
There are two chief types of lymphoma, Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma contains Reed-Sternberg cells (giant cells that are relatively easy to identify under a microscope) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma does not contain reed-Sternberg cells.
Hodgkin lymphoma is too common in young people (15 to 40 years old) and people aged over 55 years old. Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is usually diagnosed in people aged 60 years and older and is considered the most common type of lymphoma. Both Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are slightly more common in men.
Myeloma is one of the major types of blood cancer. It is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cells involved in the production of antibodies in response to microbes and foreign substances invading the body. In myeloma, abnormal antibodies produced can’t fight infection. It is usually referred to as multiple myeloma since it affects many places of bone marrow in the body.
It is relatively a rare disease. Usually, the patients diagnosed with myeloma are 70 years and older. It is more common in men. Based on the types of blood cancer, the physician will prescribe specific cancer medicines.
Blood Cancer Stages:
Treatment begins with determining the stage of blood cancer. The blood cancer stages define the extent to which cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
Lymph nodes filter the fluid carrying lymphocytes and stores the lymphocytes to help the body fight disease. In stage 1, a sudden rise in the number of lymphocytes causes enlargement of lymph nodes. The risk at this stage is minimal as the cancer is localized to lymph nodes only.
In this stage, the spleen, liver and lymph nodes are enlarged because the multiplication of blood cells is very high in this stage.
Anaemia occurs in this stage. The spleen, liver, and lymph nodes enlarge significantly.
Out of 4 blood cancer stages, this is a high risk stage. In this stage, the platelets number decreases rapidly leading to severe anemia. Cancer begins to affect the vital organs.
Know The Facts and Stay Aware:
Having regular health checkups can detect the blood cancer at early stages. If you experience any symptoms of blood cancer, don’t ignore it. It’s important to find out what causes them. Keeping us away from certain risk factors may help reduce cancer risk to some extent. Reduce or avoid the exposure to radiation and harmful chemicals such as pesticides and avoid smoking.