Blood Cancer: Types, Causes, and Treatment Options
Blood cancer, medically referred to as hematological
malignancy, encompasses a group of complex diseases that profoundly affect the
production and function of blood cells. Understanding the intricacies of blood
cancer, including its types, underlying causes, common symptoms, diagnostic
methods, and available treatments, is crucial for patients and their families.
In this article, we will embark on an informative journey to demystify this
Types of Blood Cancer:
Blood cancer manifests in several forms, with the primary
categories being leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma. Leukemia originates
in the bone marrow, disrupting the production of white blood cells. Lymphoma
affects the lymphatic system, comprising lymph nodes, the spleen, and bone
marrow. Multiple myeloma, on the other hand, targets plasma cells, integral in
antibody production. Each subtype presents distinct characteristics,
necessitating specialized treatment strategies.
Causes and Risk Factors:
The etiology of blood cancer is often elusive. Nevertheless,
identifiable risk factors include genetic predisposition, exposure to certain
chemicals or radiation, viral infections like the human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) or Epstein-Barr virus, compromised immune function, and a history of
specific blood disorders or prior cancer therapies. Importantly, the presence
of risk factors does not guarantee the development of blood cancer, as many
cases occur sporadically.
Common Symptoms and Diagnostic Procedures:
The symptoms of blood cancer are diverse and can differ according
to the type and stage of the disease. General signs encompass persistent
fatigue, unexplained weight loss, susceptibility to infections, easy bruising
or bleeding, bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, and night sweats. Diagnosing blood
cancer can be intricate due to the non-specific nature of these symptoms.
Diagnosis typically involves blood tests to assess cell counts and
abnormalities, imaging techniques such as CT scans or PET scans, bone marrow
biopsy, and lymph node biopsy. These investigations provide invaluable insights
into the type, extent, and stage of the cancer.
Treating blood cancer necessitates a multi-faceted approach
tailored to the patient's unique circumstances. Common treatment modalities
include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation, targeted
therapy, and immunotherapy. Chemotherapy employs potent drugs to eradicate
cancer cells, while radiation therapy utilizes high-energy beams to target
malignant cells in specific areas. Targeted therapy and immunotherapy represent
cutting-edge approaches designed to selectively combat cancer cells or bolster
the body's immune system. Stem cell transplantation is a procedure that entails
the replacement of damaged bone marrow with healthy stem cells. Treatment plans
are meticulously crafted, taking into account the blood cancer's specific
attributes, stage, and the patient's overall health.
Dr. (Maj) A P Dubey
Senior Consultant & Unit Head - Medical Oncology & Haemato-Oncology
Metro Hospital & Cancer Institute, Preet Vihar, Delhi
Metro Hospitals & Heart Institute, Noida Sector-11, UP