Facts You Need To Know About Blood Cancer

1. What is leukemia?

Leukemia also termed blood cancer is a group of cancers that arise primarily in blood. Of the different cells of the blood, anyone can turn into a cancerous cell. Generally, a cell that has turned cancerous, starts producing its own clone cells which attain immorality. These cells not only are useless to us but also are harmful to us. If not treated well, they can kill the person.

2. What are the symptoms of leukemia?

Generally, there are no specific signs which tell that the affected person is suffering from leukemia. Depending on the abnormality in the blood, manifestations differ. If the Hemoglobin drops, the person can have a weakness, breathlessness on exertion. Generally, patients develop recurrent fever which doesn't respond to a routine set of antibiotics and supportive care. Some patients can experience bleeding manifestations like gum bleeding, passing blood in urine or stools along with excess menses bleeding in women. Some patients may notice firm round swellings in the neck, axillae or groin region which are painless but increase in size over a period of time.  

3. What are the different types of leukemia?

Leukemia can be divided based on time of onset or based on the type of cell involved or based on various genetic abnormalities that we see in these patients. Based on the time of onset they are classified as acute or chronic leukemia. Based on the type of cells, they are classified and myeloid or lymphoid leukemia. Based on the different genetic defects that we see, currently, the World Health Organization has divided leukemia into more than 100 subtypes. Depending on the exact subtype, the treatment and cure rates differ.

4. What’s the difference between chronic and acute leukemia?

Chronic leukemia develops slowly over a period of months to years and a person can survive for several years even with no or minimal treatment. On the other hand, acute leukemia develops rapidly over days to weeks and if not treated can be fatal in a few weeks time. Acute leukemia always warrants an emergency treatment to save the life of the patient.

5. How is leukemia diagnosed?

Generally, leukemia can be diagnosed by a simple complete blood count and peripheral smear examination. However, to classify the exact subtype of leukemia we need advanced tests like flow cytometry, cytogenetics, FISH tests and molecular tests. These are extremely important for the doctor to decide on the type of treatment to be given to that patient. Generally for the above tests, we do a procedure called bone marrow studies. Here we put a small needle inside the hip bone of the patient under anesthesia cover and take samples of blood and bone tissue.  

Manipal Hospital, Mangalore has the best blood cancer treatment doctor in Bangalore experienced in treating leukemia. 

6. Why the tests are expensive and are they really needed?

Yes, the tests done to accurately classify the leukemia are on the higher side as they are all advanced tests done only in select referral labs. Even the tests are interpreted by doctors who have specialized in this subject.  

7. How is leukemia treated?

Treatment of leukemia involves a multi-modal approach with both chemotherapy and immunotherapies are used in conjunction. Depending on the subtype of leukemia diagnosed treatment varies, however, there are no much geographical variations in the treatment offered. The treatment options for particular leukemia are almost the same across the US or Europe or India. Most of the treatment options are evidence-based and an individual doctor can not change the treatment based on his gut feeling. Hence we can see, the treatments are almost the same across all the cancer centres in our country. For blood cancer treatment in Mangalore consult the best cancer hospital near you.

8. Why do people with the same cancer get different treatment and have different problems?

As stated earlier, the treatment is based on the knowledge of individual genetic abnormalities that we see in the patients. For example, 2 patients with Acute lymphoblastic leukemia may get different treatment even though their age and sex are the same. Hence it is not wise to compare the treatments given to different patients with the same disease without taking into consideration of its scientific background. Again each person is different in their capacity to handle chemicals by their liver and kidneys. Hence the side effects also widely vary between the patients. 

9. How as family members, how can we help our relative in coping with treatment?

The most important thing the relatives and friends of cancer patients remember is that the patient is in need of both emotional and financial support. Many of the cancer patients are treated in special wards where visitors are not allowed. However, generally, the patient is allowed to keep their phones with them. It is better to communicate through phones with these patients and assure them. 

10. Can a change in diet or lifestyle alter the course of cancer? Can the so-called superfoods available in the market cure cancer?

The internet is flooded with advertisements of superfoods that can kill cancer cells in no time. But please remember, once there is full-fledged cancer development, the diet or lifestyle changes alone can not alter the course of the disease. If a healthy diet and lifestyle are followed along with definitive treatment of the disease like chemotherapy or immunotherapy, a patent can definitely beat cancer.

11. Can blood cancer be cured?

Yes, definitely we a cure blood cancer. As of today at least 50-60% of blood cancers can be completely cured and another 20-30% of them can be converted into chronic diseases like diabetes or hypertension. The most important things required for attaining a cure are early diagnosis and getting proper treatment as prescribed by your doctor without any fail.

Looking for a blood cancer treatment hospital in Mangalore then contact Manipal Hospital, Mangalore where you will get the best treatment and care.

 12. Are the side effects of chemotherapy worse than cancer?

Absolutely no. The side effects can be managed easily with currently available supportive care medications. The side effects are invariable, however, vary from person to person.

13. Can leukemia be prevented?

The general answer would be no. However, avoiding smoking, alcohol and fast foods would definitely reduce the chance o anyone developing cancer. Having a healthy lifestyle with a healthy diet and a good amount of exercise is key to a long healthy life. 


Dr. Prashanth B

Consultant - Hematology

Manipal Hospitals, Mangalore
































 

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