Blood cancer, also known as Hematologic cancer starts in the bone marrow. It occurs when abnormal blood cells start growing rapidly and get out of control. These abnormal cells interfere with the normal functioning of cells that would normally fight infection and produce new blood cells. Blood cancer changes the way blood cells behave and how they work. There are three types of blood cells:
- White Blood Cells – They fight infections and are a part of the immune system
- Red Blood Cells – They carry oxygen to the body’s tissues and organs and brings carbon dioxide to the lungs so they can be breathed out
- Platelets – They help your blood clot when you’re injured
There are majorly three types of blood cancer –
- Leukemia – People who have leukemia make a lot of WBCs that are unable to fight infections. There are 4 sub-types of Leukemia:-
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) – This starts in WBCs called Lymphocytes. People with ALL make too many lymphocytes that crowd out healthy cells. This is more common in children.
- Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) – This starts in myeloid cells, which grow into WBCs, RBCs, and platelets. AML lowers the number of healthy blood cells.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) – Like ALL, CLL also starts in lymphocytes but it grows slowly. It mainly affects older people but many don’t show symptoms until years after cancer has started.
- Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) – Like AML, this cancer also starts in myeloid cells but the abnormal cells grow slowly. It is slightly more common in men than women.
- Lymphoma – This is a cancer of the lymph system that includes lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus gland. There are two types of lymphomas –
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Starts in B Lymphocytes, aka B Cells. These cells make proteins called antibodies that are responsible for fighting off germs.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – Starts in T cell or B cell.
- Myeloma – This is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are a type of WBC that makes antibodies. This can damage the bones and crowd out healthy cells. It also makes antibodies that are unable to fight the infections.
Symptoms of Blood Cancer
- Persistent fatigue
- Unintended weight loss
- Night sweats
- Fevers and chills
- Joint pain
- Breath shortness
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Frequent infections
Causes of Blood Cancer
- Exposure to radiations or chemicals
- Family history of leukemia
- Genetic disorders like Down Syndrome