What is Blood Cancer?
Our blood has many different kinds of blood cells in it. A single drop contains nearly half a million white blood cells and more than 200 million red blood cells. To maintain those numbers our bodies constantly need to recycle old cell and make new ones. The production of fresh blood cells happens in our bone marrow which contains stem cells that make all the cell’s found in our blood. Each stem cell can divide many times, creating copies that develop into different types of blood cell. This includes red blood cells that carry oxygen and white blood cells that fight infections and protect against cancer.
For cells to grow and specialize normally the genome needs to be healthy and impact. However, errors can occur in the cell’s DNA. When the errors build up, it can cause certain cells to start growing uncontrollably leading to leukemia or lymphoma.
Errors in cells called lymphoblast cause acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of leukemia in children. Because these cancers come from faulty blood cells, they don’t form solid lumps but flow through the bloodstream. That means doctors can’t remove the Leukemia Lymphoma with surgery alone because the cancer cells aren’t all sticking together in a solid mass. Instead, they use different therapeutic tactics.
One way is to use the immune system, which can recognize the cancer cells and wants to attack them. But leukemias and lymphomas can trick the healthy immune system so that it does not attack cancer. So, we can destroy the corrupted immune system with radiation and replace it with a new one from a donor. This is a bone marrow transplant.
Another treatment blocks those trick messages from the cancer cells which encourages a person’s own immune system to attack cancer. These drugs are called checkpoint inhibitors. Scientists are also developing a way to take immune cells out of the body and engineer them in the lab to make them attack cancer cells. These improved immune cells, called CAR-T cells, can then be put back into cancer patients as an effective treatment.
By understanding the biochemistry and genetics of blood cancers in more details, “Bart Cancer Institute” scientists aim to develop new personalized treatment options for patients.
Types of Blood Cancer:
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide responsible for about 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Cancer is such a disease that if anyone takes it in its captivity, then that person considers itself dead. These days, the number of patients suffering from blood cancer is increasing rapidly.
There are many types of cancer:
- Stomach Cancer
- Throat Cancer
- Breast Cancer
Blood cancer is also a type of cancer that is in the blood. In this cancer cells slowly spread to the blood. Blood Cancer can happen to anyone at any age, but the risk most of its occurrence is after 30 years of age.
There are three types of blood cancer:
- Multiple Myeloma
People diagnosed with leukemia increased from 33 percent in 1975, to 59 percent in 2005. Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells. Most blood cells develop in the bone marrow.
For a person with leukemia, the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. Unlike normal white blood cells, Leukemia cells divide continuously and do not die when they should. The build-up of leukemia cells eventually crowds out normal blood cells leaving fewer and fewer normal cells to carry oxygen to the tissues, fight infections, and control bleeding.
Although leukemia is the most common cancer among children, it occurs more often in older adults. There are four main types of Leukemia. The rates of new diagnosis vary by Leukemia type and age group.
Children under age 15 have higher rates of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia or ALL. Whereas adults, 55 and older are more likely to develop Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia or CML, Acute Myelogenous Leukemia or AML and Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or CLL.
These four Leukemia types plus other less common types combined to make up the total number of the new leukemia diagnosis. The median age at diagnosis for all leukemia types and ages combined is 66.
When you look at the median age for each leukemia type separately, there are differences.
- The median age for ALL is 14
- The median age for AML is 67
- Median age for CML is 64
- The median age for CLL is 71
Lymphoma, a type of cancer involving lymphocytes, which can present in many different parts of the body. Lymphomas present as lymph node enlargement, in the neck, armpits, inguinal region, or they may be internal lymph nodes.
It gives you symptoms like
- abdominal pain
- enlargement of liver, spleen
- fever, weight loss
- night sweats
But some patients have no symptoms or no external findings. But on routine blood tests or blood tests are done for some other reason. You find that the
- ESR is high
- blood counts are abnormal
- liver function may be abnormal
- LDH may be high
So, these are the cases when you suspect Lymphoma.
How do you make the Diagnosis of Lymphoma?
The diagnosis of lymphoma is to be made by use of either excisional lymph node biopsy or a true cut biopsy. And this is the most important point that the practitioners should remember in making the diagnosis.
Without these, about 60% of lymphomas are misdiagnosed and people end up getting reports as either tuberculosis or reactive lymph node and that is disastrous for the patient.
Types of Lymphoma:
There are two most important subtypes of lymphoma
And the treatment is very different for both. so it is very very important that a proper diagnosis is made and if any doubt a second opinion should be taken.
How are these Lymphomas Treated?
Most of the lymphomas are treated with chemotherapy. In early cases of Hodgkin Lymphoma, few cycles of ABVD chemotherapy followed by low-dose radiotherapy to the involved site is sufficient.
In Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, there are many subtypes and the treatments are very variable. Briefly, you can remember that there are three major groups
- Low Grade
- Intermediate Grade
- High Grade
Low Grade infamous can frequently be left without treatment or though for many months to several years sometimes. The intermediate Grade lymphomas are the commonest, which is diffuse large b-cell lymphoma and they are treated by a combination of chopped chemotherapy. High-grade lymphomas are treated with various different aggressive chemotherapy regimens.
An average about 80% of Hodgkin lymphomas are cured forever and an average of 50% Non-Hodgkin lymphomas are cured forever.
3. Multiple Myeloma:
Multiple Myeloma is also a cancer of the bone marrow. Myeloma starts in the bone marrow from a cell called the plasma cell. It is a cancer of plasma cells. In multiple myeloma, which is a basically a cancer of elderly. The plasma cells release toxins which can affect the kidney, bone marrow and the bones. So, the patients can present with varied symptoms.
Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma:
The most common symptom being:
- Bony Pains
- Low backache
- Rib Pains
Which are not relieved by rest. They can present with renal failure or just anemia or symptoms due to high calcium in the blood. It is very important to identify and recognize the symptoms and evaluate properly.
Myeloma is not a curable disease but can be controlled by the majority of the patients. There are again newer drugs available in the treatment of myeloma which make the chances of response to the treatment very high.
Myeloma is managed by chemotherapy drugs which are given in the form of injections or tablets and we can prolong the lifespan of a patient with myeloma easily up to five to six years.
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Cancer:
So, the signs and symptoms of blood cancer can be very general. Which can make it quite difficult to diagnose and there can be sort of:
- Generalized Weakness
- Tiredness Ongoing Tiredness for any particular reason
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Pain in Bones and Joints
- You Can Get Fevers
- Frequent Dizziness
- Night Sweats
- Reoccurring Infections
In some of the blood cancers such as lymphoma, you make it painless swellings, particularly in your throat armpit or groin. And one of the most common presentations of Myeloma is a sort of bone or back pain. There as you can tell there were general symptoms.
The most important thing to say is that if you’re worried at all and particularly if you get any of these symptoms that are reoccurring or ongoing they just can’t shake off an infection for instance. it’s important just to get them checked out it probably isn’t a blood cancer. But it’s important just to pop along which you pee and get them checked.
Blood Cancer Treatment:
1.New Blood Cancer Drug Passes Critical Trial:
A new blood cancer drug, a potential alternative to the common chemotherapy drug Melphalan with fewer side effects has passed a critical mid-stage trial.
Chemotherapy is one of the most effective forms of treatment for blood cancer but it often leads serene or failure and cardiac complications. The new drug captopril enabled Melphalan does not contain propylene glycol. The chemical believed to be responsible for the side-effects.
The drug is now being tested in patients with multiple myeloma undergoing stem cell transplants. Around 22,000 cases of multiple myeloma are diagnosed in the United States each year.
3. Biological Therapy:
some people take medicines for Leukemia, also called biological therapy. The body’s natural protection increases through this therapy. In this, the medicine is inserted through the syringe in the skin inside the skin. This slows down the speed of leukemia cells spread in your blood (blood) and gives strength to the patient’s weakened immune system. It may also have side effects on giving any other medication with this treatment.
4. Radiation Therapy:
Radiation therapy is like X-rays. You will not feel any kind of the pain in it. In this, the energetic rays emanating through a large machine passes through the patient’s body to eliminate cancer cells. While doing this therapy, the body’s healthy cells are also damaged, but the cells recover with time.
5. Targeted Cancer Therapy:
Targeted Cancer Therapy is a new and very promising approach to the treatment of cancer. It is designing new treatments, new drugs, that specifically target the cancer cell. So, they avoid normal cells and go directly to the cancer cell and then cause that cancer cell to die.
6. Stem Cell Transplant:
Stem cell transplant, Leukemia is also treated with stem cell transplant. In this transplant, you are given a high dose and radiation therapy. From high doses of drugs, bone marrow affects both leukemia cancer cell and a healthy cell. Not only this, after high dose chemotherapy or radiation therapy you get healthy cells through long veins. New blood cells are formed from transplanted stem cells.