Every year, the world witnesses numerous deaths due to cancer. Blood cancer is one of the most widespread cancers. In the UK, more than 40,000 people have blood cancer each year. The number of people living with blood cancer in the UK is over 2,50,000. Blood cancer affects the development and functions of your blood cells. Read on to learn more about blood cancer, its causes, prevention, and blood cancer symptoms.
What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancers are also known as hematologic cancers that begin in the bone marrow, where blood is produced. Blood cancer results in the growth of an abnormal type of cell, which disrupts the function of normal blood cells that are vital to fighting off infection. The abnormal blood cells start growing out of control and interrupt the development of normal blood cells. It stops the blood from performing its primary functions like preventing blood loss, fighting against infection, etc.
Causes of Blood Cancer
Blood cancer occurs when something goes wrong with the development of your blood cells. Changes (mutations) in the DNA within blood cells are the leading cause of blood cancer. Your blood cells start to behave abnormally. These changes are related to things we can’t control. They are not genetic faults that can be passed on. Instead, they occur during a person’s lifetime. Though there is no exact reason for the development of blood cancer, mentioned below are certain risk factors:
- Family history
- Certain infections and treatments
- Bad immune system
- Chemical exposure or radiation
Types of Blood Cancer
Mentioned below are different types of blood cancer:
- Leukaemia: Originates in the blood and bone marrow.
- Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Develops in the lymphatic system from lymphocytes (a type of cell).
- Multiple myeloma: Starts in the blood plasma cells.
Other types of blood cancers include Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), Amyloidosis, Myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs), Aplastic anaemia, and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
Blood Cancer Symptoms
Blood cancer symptoms differ from person to person depending on the type of blood cancer. The list below explains the most common blood cancer symptoms.
Tiredness, fatigue, and paleness
Lack of enough red blood cells causes anaemia. As a result, you feel tired and breathless even after proper rest or sleep. The inside of your lower eyelid will look white or pale pink. It is known as paleness (pallor). You might also feel faint and have headaches.
Bruising, unexplained rash, or bleeding
Low platelets cause bruises on the skin. They appear darker or show a slightly different colour to the skin. You may develop small spots (petechiae) or larger discoloured patches (purpura) in the skin. These are clusters of minor bruises that look like a rash. You may experience prolonged bleeding from a cut or bleed from your nose or gums.
Unexplained fever or infections
You may get persistent or severe fever and infection that may cause chills, shivers, coughing, or a sore throat.
Swellings and Lumps
The building up of abnormal white blood cells in your lymph gland causes lumps or swelling in your neck, groin, or armpit. Though they’re usually painless, a swelling further inside your body can press on your lungs which cause pain and discomfort.
Bone pain and Itchy skin
Myeloma can damage any prominent bone like your back, hips, or ribs, which can cause acute bone pain. Some people also experience itching.
Unexplained weight loss and drenching night sweats
Your body’s reaction to cancer cells can change your body’s metabolism and reduce fat and muscle. It may also cause excessive perspiration at bedtime.
The building up of abnormal cells in your spleen can make you feel full after eating a small meal. You may feel bloated or experience swelling and discomfort under your ribs.
Prevention of Blood Cancer
Not much can be done to prevent blood cancer, but distancing yourself from certain known risk factors can be of great help. Following the below-mentioned tips can boost your immunity and reduce the risk to some extent.
- Avoid exposure to high radiation doses and harmful chemicals such as pesticides and benzene.
- Cigarette or tobacco consumption should be completely avoided in every form.
- Exercise regularly or daily for 30 minutes to keep your body healthy.
- Healthy food like fresh vegetables and fruits can reduce the risk of blood cancer.
- Be watchful of your body, and don’t ignore any symptoms. Consult your doctor immediately when your body gives any signal related to cancer.
- Regular health checkups help in detecting blood cancer in its early stage.
Blood Cancer Treatment
There are various treatments for blood cancer. The type of blood cancer determines the course of treatment. Your doctor may recommend a combination of treatments based on the type and the extent to which your cancer has spread. Some of the most common blood cancer treatments are:
- Targeted therapies
- Stem cell transplants
This life-threatening condition must be screened regularly to identify it in its initial phase. Timely removal of precancerous growth can facilitate its complete cure. 30% of cancer deaths are due to inadequate intake of a healthy diet and insufficient physical activity. Max Healthcare group has a panel of experts who can help you with advanced medical guidance and further assistance in case of queries. Make sure to get in touch with them for further information.
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