The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has designated September of every year as “Blood Cancer Awareness Month”. The major objective of Blood Cancer Awareness Month is to educate people about the types, risk factors, prevention and advancement in treatment, and present survival rate of the population suffering from Blood Cancer. India ranks 3rd highest globally in reported cases of blood cancer with a whopping figure of 8 lakh cases per year. This is not at all a good figure. This growing burden is a serious concern for public health administrators in India. Lack of Education and awareness, lack of holistic health system, and low accessibility to affordable healthcare in India has resulted in higher mortality rate due to blood cancer.
Hetero Healthcare understands the gravity of the situation and thus strives to educate and engage everyone about blood cancer.
What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancers are also known as hematologic cancers. They start in the bone marrow which is the blood production house of the human body. Blood cancer affects the immune system of the body. The function of normal blood cells is to enhance the immune system of the body by producing new blood cells and fighting off with infections. Blood cancers occur when abnormal blood cells start growing out of control and affect the function of normal blood cells.
What are the types of Blood Cancer?
The three main types of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma:
Leukemia: Rapid production of white blood cells that interfere the production of red blood cells and platelets.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Cancer that starts in the white blood cells called lymphocytes.
Hodgkin lymphoma: Blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes. Presence of Reed-Sternberg cell is one of the major criteria of Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Multiple myeloma: is a blood cancer that begins in the blood’s plasma cells, a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow.
The estimated number of Lymphoid and Haematopoietic System (LHS) Cancers by sex in India reported by the National Cancer Registry Programme (NCRP) for the year 2010, 2015, and 2020 has been presented in the below table.
What are the Risk Factors of Blood Cancer?
The risk factors that contribute to Blood Cancer include:
- Children below the age of 14 years and adults above 40 years of age have higher chances to get leukemia.
- Excessive tobacco and alcohol consumption.
- Regular exposure to harmful radiation causes DNA mutation and leads to cancer.
- A family or genetic history of the hematological disease can also lead to Blood Cancer.
What are the symptoms of Blood Cancer?
It is very difficult to identify the symptoms of blood cancer as they appear once they have reached the advanced stage. The common symptoms associated with blood cancer include:
- There will be occurrence of fever and chills.
- The patient feels fatigue with persistent weakness
- The patient has loss of appetite
- Sweating profusely at night
- Pain in the bone and joint
- Shortness of breath or troubled breathing
- Itchy rash
- Lymph nodes of the underarm, neck, and groin swell.
Please report to the doctor immediately if you come across any of the above-mentioned symptoms.
How to Treat Blood Cancer?
The major goal of treatment is to provide a good quality of life for a longer duration. To treat Blood Cancer, a Bone marrow transplant is one of the best options. The patient’s chance of survival increases with a bone marrow transplant. A bone marrow transplant is also known as Stem Cell Transplant. In this process, healthy blood forming stem cells collected from bone marrow or circulating blood or umbilical cord blood is infused into the patient’s body.
Another set of treatment options is the use of Chemotherapy and Radiation Therapy. Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to treat blood cancer. In radiation therapy, the cancer cells are destroyed by radiation.