Cancer that affects the bone marrow where blood cells are produced or other parts of the immune system like lymph nodes are called blood cancer. Over 50,000 people in India are diagnosed with leukaemia (blood cancer) and about 3.7% of fresh cases are reported every year.
Types of Blood Cancers
The types of blood cancer, include:
Leukaemia: This type of blood cancer affects cells in the bone marrow, which is a soft, spongy tissue that produces blood cells and is found inside the bones. Leukaemia usually affects white blood cells. There are different types of leukaemia depending upon the time of development. Some take a short span to develop (acute) while others take a longer time to develop (chronic):
Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia
Acute myeloid leukaemia
Acute promyelocytic leukaemia
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia
Chronic myeloid leukaemia
Lymphoma: Also called cancer of the lymphatic system, this type of blood cancer usually affects the lymphocytes, which are a type of white blood cells that are a part of the immune system. Types of lymphoma include:
Diffuse large B cell lymphoma
Myeloma: This type of blood cancer usually affects the plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells that is responsible to produce antibodies.
Myelodysplastic syndromes: This is a precancerous condition caused as the cells produced in the bone marrow are faulty and may progress to blood cancer over a period of time.
Myeloproliferative neoplasms: This is a rare type of blood cancer where our body produces too many of a particular type of blood cell. Types of Myeloproliferative neoplasms include:
Chronic Myeloid Leukemia
Blood Cancer Symptoms
Symptoms of blood cancer vary depending on the different type of blood cancer and include:
A pale complexion that is not normal
Rashes or itchy skin
Tiredness even while resting
Unexplained bleeding or bruises
Weight loss without even trying
If you have any of the above symptoms or if you have blood cancer, then consult with the best oncologist at the best blood cancer hospital in India.
Diagnosis of Blood Cancer
Physical Exam: Physical signs like signs of anaemia, swelling of lymph nodes, enlargement of spleen, liver, etc are looked for in a physical examination.
Blood cancer is diagnosed using certain tests including:
Complete Blood Count (CBC): This is a common blood test used to diagnose blood cancer. The type of blood cells measured using this test includes:
White blood cell count (WBC count): Also known as leukocyte count, WBC count measures the total number of WBCs in the blood sample. WBC protects our body from cancer cells, infection, and other foreign bodies.
White blood cell differential: This test measures the number of different types of white blood cells including neutrophils, lymphocytes, monocytes, eosinophils, and basophils.
Red blood cell count (RBC count): Also called an erythrocyte count, an RBC count measures the number of RBCs in the blood sample using various methods like haematocrit and haemoglobin.
Platelet count: The test measures the number of platelets, which is important for the process of forming blood clots, in a blood sample.
Bone marrow aspiration and biopsy
Lymph node biopsy in cases of lymphoma
Some specialized tests are done for typing of blood cancers
Flowcytometry or Immunohistochemistry
Fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH)
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is the latest technique of diagnosing and risk stratification of blood cancers.
Treatment of Blood Cancer
Blood cancer can be treated using different treatments including:
Active Surveillance or Watchful Waiting: Sometimes, for individuals with blood cancer, treatment may not be beneficial at that point, or they may not need it. In such cases, they are monitored using regular blood tests and follow-up visits. Watchful waiting may be the safest way to avoid the side effects of cancer treatment.
Chemotherapy: Medications or drugs are given orally or intravenously to kill cancer cells. The therapy is done in cycles with a long gap in between these cycles.
Stem Cell Transplant: The abnormal stem cells are replaced with healthy cells, intravenously. The types of stem cell transplant include:
Autograft or autologous stem cell transplant: The patient’s healthy stem cells are collected, stored, and then transplanted back, later.
Allograft or allogeneic stem cell transplant: A donor’s healthy stem cells are used for the transplant.
Immunotherapy: The individual’s immune system is strengthened by drugs or medications to fight against cancer cells.
Targeted Therapies: Also called biological therapies, genetic changes in the cancer cells are targeted and destroyed.
Radiotherapy: High-energy rays, like x-rays, are used to destroy cancer cells. They are especially used to treat Hodgkin lymphoma or non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Machines are used to focus high-energy rays on the area where the cancer cells are.
Surgery: Surgery is very rare and only a few people undergo surgery, especially those with lymphoma who need to have their spleen removed.
Manipal hospital is the best blood cancer hospital in Delhi that brings the expertise of several specialists, including surgeons, pathologists, oncologists, radiation therapists, and nurses, to bear in customizing treatment for each patient so that you can get the care you need right away.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Can blood cancer be cured permanently?
Blood cancer is curable with the appropriate treatment and medication, at the right time. The curability rate also depends on the type of blood cancer, stage of cancer in case of lymphoma and age of the person. According to NIH (National Institute of Health), about two-thirds of people with leukaemia can live longer than 5 years while people with Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, have a high-curability rate of 85% and 70% respectively.
2. How long can you live with blood cancer?
The survival rates for people with blood cancer have significantly improved and are reported to live longer than 5 years.
3. Which type of blood cancer is most dangerous?
No response to initial treatment or recurrent relapse of cancer after treatment indicates that cancer is dangerous.
4. How can one predict the chance of survival in blood cancers?
The chance of survival in the case of blood cancers is predicted on the basis of prognostication scores. Various factors that are included in the prognostication of blood cancers include:
CT scan/ PET scan findings
5. How are Blood cancers different from Solid-organ cancer?
Blood is a liquid medium present throughout the body and not confined to a defined area, which makes blood cancers and their treatment very different from Solid-organ cancers. There is a limited role of surgery and radiation therapy in the treatment of blood cancers, as they are chemo-sensitive. Chemotherapy treatment for blood cancers is much more intense in comparison to solid cancers and hence, their side effects. Also, the staging of blood cancers is very different from solid cancers and the concept of metastasis is not applicable for blood cancers. In the case of blood cancers, prognostic risk stratification is important. Bone marrow transplant had a limited role in solid cancers but remains the curative treatment for blood cancers.
This difference has actually led to the development of a completely different speciality for the treatment of blood cancers i.e. Hemato-oncology all over the world.
For blood cancer treatment, consult Manipal Hospital, the best hospital for blood cancer treatment in Delhi. They have cancer experts with wide experience in the diagnosis and treatment of virtually every kind of cancer.