September is the blood cancer awareness month. Many of us are not aware of what is blood cancer is and are confused about differences between its types and sub-types. Learn about blood cancer below and call our office to get consultation for yourself or for a loved one who suffers from blood cancer. Dr. Jones, the Medical Director of Cancer Program here at Gentle Wellness Center has worked with many patients with blood cancers.
What are blood cancers?
In a normal person, blood cells contain various types of cells in a certain balance. Blood cancers usually start in the bone marrow nut there are some that start in the lymphatic system. Blood is produced in bone marrow. Blood cancer occurs when abnormal blood cells start multiplying and grow beyond control. This hinders the activity and production of the normal blood cells that help in fighting infections, preventing bleeding and production of newer blood cells. Bone marrow stem cells become mature and progress into 3 types of blood cells, which are the red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. A blood cancer diagnosis can be acute or chronic. Acute cancers are fast growing whereas chronic cancers are slow growing and may or may not get worse over time. Some blood cancers such as lymphomas can be indolent or in early stages and may only require monitoring for many years. without any other issues.
Common Types of Blood Cancer
Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma are the main types of blood cancer.
Leukemia is a blood cell cancer which starts in the bone marrow and blood. In the case of leukemia, the body produces a large number of abnormal white blood cells and disrupts the ability of bone marrow to create red blood cells and platelets. Cancerous cells harm the good blood cells and do not allow the formation of new and healthy blood cells because of which the body is unable to fight off infections. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia are the types of leukemia cancers. There are some other rare types of leukemia.
Lymphoma is a cancer that originates in lymphatic system and the lymphatic system is a part of the immune system that protects the body against infections and diseases. Lymphatic tissue is located all over the body and blood vessels help in order to carry it around. Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma are the most common types of lymphomas.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that develops from lymphocytes. When the infection fighting white blood cell called lymphocyte changes, it turns into a cancerous lymphoma cell. These cells create a mass and form groups in other parts of the body. The lymphoma cells form masses and gather in parts of the body. In most Hodgkin lymphomas, there is a presence of an abnormal lymphocyte known as oversized Reed-Sternberg cells, malignant mature B cells. This is a rare form of cancer compared to the other types of lymphomas and blood cancers. Hodgkin Lymphoma is said to be one of the most treatable form of cancers and is shown to have a large percentage of survivors.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma also develops from lymphocytes and is similar to Hodgkin’s lymphoma but there are 2 main differences. In case of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the blood cells that become malignant can be either B cells or T cells. The origination of these cells could be in the lymph nodes or any other organs of the body. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a common form of lymphoma or blood cancer and has many types and sub-types. Learn more about lymphomas and symptoms of lymphomas here.
Multiple Myeloma is a type of blood cancer that originates in the plasma cells, which are also a type of white blood cells in the bone marrow. The plasma cells are also called the plasma B cells. Myeloma cells interfere with the normal production of antibodies, which results into a weakened immune system that increases risk of infections. The multiplication of myeloma cells causes disruption in the production and function of red and white blood cells. Kidney damage is likely because of an abnormally high count of such dysfunctional antibodies. Furthermore, the myeloma cells are known to produce substances that lead to bone destruction, fractures and pain. It is possible that myeloma cells flow through the blood stream and group in other parts of the body. Many times, myeloma starts in various parts of the bone marrow and is therefore called multiple myeloma.
Blood Cancer Diagnosis
Tests and procedures used to diagnose blood cancers are as follows:
- Blood Testing
- Bone Marrow Testing
- Diagnostic Imaging Tests
- Lymph Node Biopsies
- Other Physical exams
Staging process demonstrates the specific type, area or location of the cancer and level of how much the cancer has spread. Diagnosis and staging is mostly done simultaneously or immediately after the diagnosis. Every blood cancer has a different criterion for staging. Physicians and oncologists can help the patients understand how they stage the blood cancer.
Blood Cancer Treatments
Treatment options for blood cancer include stem cell transplantation, chemotherapy and radiation but doctors at Gentle Wellness Center can help you and recommend alternative cancer treatment options such as Insulin Potentiation Therapy, Low Dose Chemotherapy and High Dose Vitamin C IV Therapy. The cancer treatments at Gentle Wellness Center are different than conventional cancer treatment centers because they produce minimal side effects and patients are able to maintain a good quality of daily life. We take a unique approach in order to heal your cancer by providing a personalized holistic and integrative treatment plan that includes medical treatment in conjunction with nutritional coaching, herbal medicine and other therapies such as massage therapy and oxygen therapy.