WHAT IS BLOOD CANCER?
Your blood is made up of different cell types including red blood cells for carrying oxygen, platelets to help blood clot and white blood cells that fight infections. They all originally come from stem cells, which have the potential to develop into any type of blood cell as they divide and mature. Problems in this process, known as ‘differentiation’, are at the route of all blood cancers. Different types of blood cancer depend on when and how these problems occur.
Unfortunately, blood cancer affects a large number of people. Every 14 minutes, someone in the UK is told they have a blood cancer. That’s 104 people a day. So you are certainly not alone.
Blood cancers are categorised into three groups. We have gathered information on some of the more common examples of each group so you can learn more about your circumstance. We also link to organisations that offer additional advice and support.
Types of blood cancers
Cancerous cells start multiplying and affect either the bone marrow or the blood and reduce the rate of production of blood cells and results in high number of abnormal white blood cells. These white cells are not fully developed.
The Lymphoma is the cancer that affects the lymphocytes (kind of white blood cells). Lymphoma is a group of blood cells tumours that generate from lymphatic cells.
In this type, the plasma (a component of blood) is affected by the cancerous cells.
There are also other blood cancers and related conditions that don’t fit within these groups such as myelodysplastic syndromes and myeloproliferative neoplasms.
Within these broad groups are many different blood cancers. Each specific type affects a particular type of blood cell and will have different symptoms, treatments and outlook (prognosis). You can find more detailed information about different types of blood cancer by selecting a type from the menu.
Blood cancer symptoms
Some common blood cancer symptoms include:
- Fever, chills
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
- Loss of appetite, nausea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Night sweats
- Bone/joint pain
- Abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Itchy skin or skin rash
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin
What causes blood cancer?
While in most cases we don’t know exactly what causes the changes to DNA that can lead to blood cancer, research has shown that there are a number of things that can affect how likely you are to develop certain types of blood cancer.
These ‘risk factors’ include:
- family history,
- radiation or chemical exposure, and
- some health conditions and treatments.
Types of Treatment
The factors that will determine your treatment regimen may include:
- The type of blood cancer
- Your disease’s subtype, phase, category and/or stage
- Your cytogenetic analysis results
- Your overall health
- Your symptoms
- Your white cell count
- The cancer cells’ location
- Your rate of disease progression
- Whether you’ve had cancer in the past and subsequent chemotherapy to treat it
- Whether you’ve had another blood cancer in the past
- Whether the cancer is in your central nervous system
- Whether you have an infection in your bloodstream (systemic infection)
- Whether you’re pregnant
- The effect treatment may have on the quality of your life.
Cancer symptoms women
Most breast lumps aren’t cancer, but your doctor should always check them. Let her know about these changes, too:
- Skin dimpling or puckering
- Nipples that turn inward
- Nipple discharge
- Redness or scaling of your nipple or breast skin
“Women are natural bloaters,” says Marleen Meyers, MD, an oncologist at NYU Langone Medical Center. “It’s OK to wait a week or two to see if it goes away
If you’re still getting periods, tell your doctor if you’re spotting between them. Bleeding that’s not a part of your usual monthly cycle can have many causes, but your doctor will want to rule out endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of your uterus).
A change in the size, shape, or color of a mole or other spot, as well as development of new spots, are common signs of skin cancer.
What is multiple myeloma?
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that typically occurs within a bone due to the presence of malignant plasma cells. Under normal circumstances, plasma cells develop from B cells—a type of cell that the immune system uses to fight disease or infection. When B cells react to an infection or disease, they change into plasma cells, which are responsible for creating antibodies to help fight germs. These plasma cells are found mainly in bone marrow.
Below are some of the common symptoms of the disease:
- Bone pain and/or bone fractures
- Increased thirst
- Increased/decreased urination
- Increased risk of infections
Stages and classifications
- Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS)
- Asymptomatic myeloma, which is then divided into two subcategories:
- Smoldering myeloma
- Indolent myeloma
- Symptomatic myeloma.
Why Blood Clots Are More Common With Cancer
- Cancer cells may release chemicals that stimulate the body to produce more clots.
- Chemotherapy may damage blood vessels or reduce the production of proteins that protect against clotting.
- Some cancers produce substances called mucin, which increases blood clotting risk. Cancers that produce mucin include lung, pancreas, bowel, stomach, and ovary.
- Pain and fatigue from cancer may lead to less activity. Lack of movement allows for more blood clotting.
What Is Stomach Cancer?
The stomach is the part of your gastrointestinal system that breaks down and digests food and helps remove waste from your body.
When the cells that line your stomach change and grow out of control, they can form a tumor.
Types of Stomach Cancer
Other types of stomach cancers are rare, but include:
- Gastrointestinal stromal tumor — a type of soft-tissue cancer (sarcoma)
- Gastrointestinal carcinoid tumors
What Is lung cancer?
Lung cancer is a disease in which malignant (or dangerous) cells form in the tissue of the lungs.
Causes of lung cancer
There are many possible causes of lung cancer, but the biggest risk factor by far is smoking tobacco. Other risk factors include exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, and asbestos. Here are the most common lung cancer causes.