Blood Cancer Treatment Hospitals In India

Blood cancer is a cancer that affects the lymphatic system, blood or bone marrow. In blood cancer, an abnormal type of blood cell begins to grow uncontrollably and interrupts the development process of a normal blood cell. These cancerous or abnormal blood cells hamper both the formation and functioning of normal blood cells and prevent blood from performing functions such as clotting (to prevent severe bleeding) or fighting off infections. Blood cancers start in the bone marrow, where blood cells are formed.

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Types of Blood Cancer

·      Myeloma: In this type of blood cancer, plasma cells (a type of white blood cells) are targeted. As plasma cells produce disease fighting antibodies to fight off infection in the body, in myeloma, the body is unable to produce normal levels of antibodies, resulting in a weak immune system.

·      Leukemia: In this type of blood cancer, abnormal white blood cells (unable to fight infection) are rapidly produced. The abnormal cells weaken the bone marrow, due to which red blood cells and platelets cannot be formed.

·      Lymphoma: This type of cancer affects the lymphatic system that produces lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell or immune cells that helps in fighting off infection) and also removes excess fluids from the body. The abnormal lymphocytes form lymphoma cells that multiply and collect in lymph and other tissues, and weaken your immune system over a certain period of time. There are two types of lymphoma – Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin's. About 90% of lymphomas are the non-Hodgkin's type while about 10% are Hodgkin's.

 

Like most other cancers, the causes of blood cancer are not clearly known. However, a number of factors such as smoking, old age, history of blood disorders, family history of blood cancer, some infections, chemicals, a weak immune system or exposure to radiation or chemotherapy can increase the risk of developing blood cancer.

 

The symptoms of blood cancer include unexplained weight loss, fever with chills, night sweats, tiredness, enlarged lymph nodes, enlarged liver and spleen, nausea, frequent urination, bruising or easy bleeding, pain in the abdomen, bone or joint pain etc.

 

 Blood cancer presents in four stages as follows –

Stage I: In this stage, lymph nodes are enlarged, but the cancer has not spread to other organs of the body.

Stage II: Along with enlarged lymph nodes, liver or spleen or both may become enlarged in this stage.

Stage III: In this stage, the patient develops anemia (low hemoglobin), while swelling of the lymph nodes, liver and spleen continues. Additionally, two more organs are often affected.

Stage 4: This is last stage of blood cancer, in which the patient’s platelet level drops drastically along with low hemoglobin level. The cancer may also spread to the lungs in this stage.

 

In order to diagnose blood cancer, the physician first takes a detailed history and performs a physical examination (to check for swollen lymph nodes or the presence of tumors). After this the following tests are performed to diagnose blood cancer–

·       Blood test: It helps to check if some specific type of blood cells has increased in number.

·       Spinal Tap: Spinal fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord is examined to check for the presence of cancer cells.

·       Chest X-ray: Swollen lymph nodes, bone damage or tumors growing in the bone marrow can be seen on a chest X-ray.

·       Biopsy: In this method, a sample of a bone marrow is collected through bone needle biopsy or bone marrow aspiration and examined to check for the presence of cancer cells.

·       Cytogenetics: This test is used to detect change in genetic material if any.

·       Urine test: Some specific cancers may lead to high levels of protein known as ‘Bence Jones protein’, which can be determined by examining urine samples.

 

Once blood cancer has been diagnosed, treatment is undertaken on the basis of several factors including type of blood cancer, extent of disease, previous treatment, general health, symptoms and age of a patient.

Treatment of blood cancer is complex and includes the following –

·       Biological therapy: This therapy, also called immunotherapy, makes use of monoclonal antibodies or interferon, that help the immune system to destroy cancer cells. Monoclonal antibodies stick to cancer cells so that the immune system can detect and destroy them. Interferon stimulates and strengthens the immune system to destroy cancer cells.

·       Radiotherapy: This therapy (also known as radiation therapy), uses X-rays or energy rays emitted from metals like radium to destroy or arrest the growth of cancer cells.


Bone marrow transplantation: In this procedure, also referred to as a ‘stem cell transplant’, damaged bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow stem cells from another person. 

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