Blood Cancer – Spot the malignancy travelling in your veins

^BMODEL RELEASED. Cancer chemotherapy.^b Female patient receiving anticancer drugs from an intravenous drip bag. This continuously supplies the patient with a controlled amount of drugs that target cancer cells. The drugs target all rapidly dividing cells, which causes them to have a range of side effects, including hair loss. Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrolled replication of abnormal cells, which can invade and destroy healthy tissue. The drugs in use here are ^Icytoxan^i and ^Iadriamycin^i. Photographed at Massachusetts General Hospital, USA.
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Blood Cancer – Spot the malignancy travelling in your veins

You must have heard about blood cancer many times, but do you have an adequate knowledge of this disease? If yes, it’s great, if no, then this blog is an important thing for you. As we always say, awareness is the biggest weapon to fight with any kind of cancer, here are few things you should know about blood cancer so that you can stay safe and ensure the safety of your loved ones too.

What is Blood Cancer??

It is an umbrella term for the cancers that affect bone marrow, blood and lymphatic system.

Types of blood cancer

The types of cancers that come under the term blood cancer are leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma.

Leukaemia – A type of blood cancer in which abnormal blood cells produce in the bone marrow. Abnormal white blood cells are produced that does not function like normal white blood cells which help in fighting with infection.

Lymphoma – It’s a cancer of the lymph or lymphatic system which is a part of our immunity system. It affects our immune cells which white blood cells and is known as lymphocytes.

Myeloma – Also known as multiple myeloma, this type of blood cancer develops in the plasma cells that are found in the soft, spongy, center part of the bone which we call bone marrow.

What causes blood cancer??

As mentioned above, the term blood cancer is an umbrella term three types of cancer leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. We need to work on the causes of all three cancers separately.

But before this, it is important to clear that there are no exact reasons of the cause of blood cancer, but yes, there are few things which are considered as the possible reasons of causing blood cancer.

Causes Of Leukemia

  • Previous radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
  • Family history.
  • Exposure to high-intensity radiation.
  • Exposure to benzene that is found in tobacco smoke, unleaded gasoline, chemical production facilities.
  • Genetic disorders such as Fanconi anemia and Down syndrome.

In leukemia the damage happens in the stem cells of bone marrow. These stem cells help in constructing new blood cells.

Causes Of Lymphoma

Lymphoma cancer has two types – Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The main difference between both the types is of presence of a particular type of abnormal cell namely Reed-Sternberg cell. If this cell is not present in the body, it is known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and if the Reed-Sternberg cell is present it will be known as Hodgkin’s lymphoma. That is why causes of lymphoma blood cancer depend on its types.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Age – People with 60 years of age or above.
  • Immune deficiency – which may have caused due to HIV infection or organ transplantation.
  • Infection – Certain bacterial and viral infections can increase the risk.
  • Sex– Various types of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma have different rates across the sexes.
  • Chemicals and radiation – Just like any other type of cancer, any kind of exposure to harmful chemicals and radiations can lead to this disease.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma

  • Age – Two specific groups are more prone to this disease – people in their 20’s & people above the age of 55.
  • HIV infection – It makes the person an easy target for this fatal disease.
  • Family history – If a sibling has the disease the risk is slightly higher but in case of an identical twin the risk rate is very high.
  • Sex – Men’s are slightly more prone.

Causes of Multiple myeloma

Even here the things are not very different. Exactness of the causes is vague in the case of multiple myeloma too but yes, a blend of various factors or excess of any of the factors can certainly increase the risk.

  • Genetic factors – Root of many other diseases, genetic factors can give rise to Multiple myeloma. When some genetic changes occur in the cells, it may lead to cancer.
  • Radiation & chemical exposure – A regular and long-time exposure to health harming radiations and chemicals can be counted as one of the biggest risk factors.
  • Decline in immune system – This is certainly a big reason for any kind of blood cancer. It gives due reasons to cancer to intrude in your body.
  • Age – It is one of the most significant factors of cancer. Crossing the age of 45 enhances the risk of blood cancer.

Symptoms of blood cancer

The important thing to mention here is that some of the symptoms of blood cancer can be very common just like a normal viral illness. This makes the situation more critical as obviously no one can even imagine that a simple symptom can belong to such a fatal disease.

  • Pale skin.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Vomiting & headaches.
  • Common cold.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck during a cold or flu.
  • Swelling in legs or ankles.
  • Unusual itching.
  • Night sweats or fever.
  • Enlarged tonsils.
  • Bloating & cramping of the abdomen.
  • Persistent coughing.
  • Pain or altered sensation.
  • Increased vulnerability to infections.
  • Impaired kidney function.
  • Increased or decreased urination.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Bone pain or bone fractures.

Do you know,India might get 17lakh new cases of cancer and 8.8 lakh deaths from the disease by 2020? We need to understand that cancer is not a disease like viral which will vanish within one week of time. It is much more than that. Especially in India when sometimes long waiting list of patients in hospitals becomes the reason of death. Delay in treatment has claimed many precious lives in our country. The heart touching story of Shabnam, a blood cancer patient, is a live example of who lost her life in the long queue, waiting for her turn. Click on the link below to get an insight on the situation of cancer health facilities and required improvements in the health system of country.

When it comes to health, there should be no space for carelessness. You may not get another chance to fight the battle. No matter how simple and common health problem you have, go to your doctor and tell him/her each and everything in detail. A little alertness should always be there.  Regular health check-ups, healthy life-style can be a good start.

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