Blood Cancer - Early Signs, Treatment & Survival Rate
3 Min Read
As September is observed as the Blood Cancer Awareness Month, let’s try to understand the early signs, treatment & survival rate of blood cancer.
Blood cancer, medically known as hematologic or hematological malignancy, is a broad term encompassing several types of cancers affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. These cancers, including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, develop within the body’s blood-forming tissues, disrupting blood cells’ normal production and function. Understanding the early signs of blood cancer, its treatment options, and survival rates is crucial for early detection and effective management.
Early Signs of Blood Cancer
- Unexplained Fatigue: One of the early signs of blood cancer is persistent fatigue, often unrelieved by rest. As cancer cells grow, they compete with healthy cells for space and resources, leading to decreased oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood. This can leave individuals feeling tired, weak, and drained of energy.
- Frequent Infections: Blood cancer can weaken the immune system, making the body susceptible to infections. Individuals with blood cancer may experience recurring or severe infections that don’t respond well to treatment, such as prolonged colds, pneumonia, or skin infections.
- Easy Bruising and Bleeding: Blood cancer can disrupt the normal production of platelets, which are responsible for blood clotting. As a result, people with blood cancer may notice easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from minor cuts or nosebleeds, or the appearance of tiny red spots on the skin called petechiae.
- Unexplained Weight Loss: Unintentional weight loss is a common early sign of various cancers, including blood cancer. As cancer cells multiply and consume nutrients, the body may start to lose weight even when the person isn’t trying to diet or exercise.
- Enlarged Lymph Nodes: Swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, armpits, or groin, can be a sign of lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. These enlarged lymph nodes may be painless but should be evaluated by a healthcare professional.
- Bone Pain: Blood cancer can affect the bones and bone marrow, leading to bone pain, especially in the long bones like arm, legs, ribs and chest bone. This pain can be dull and persistent or sharp and severe.
- Unexplained Fever and Night Sweats: Persistent fever and night sweats can be indicative of blood cancer, especially lymphoma. These symptoms often accompany other signs like fatigue and weight loss.
Blood Cancer Diagnosis and Staging
Early detection is crucial for the successful treatment of blood cancer. When these signs and symptoms are present, a healthcare provider may recommend various diagnostic tests, including blood tests, bone marrow aspiration and biopsy, imaging scans, and lymph node biopsies. Once diagnosed, the cancer is staged to determine the extent of its spread, which helps guide treatment decisions.
Treatment Options for Blood Cancer
The treatment of blood cancer depends on the type of cancer, its stage, and the patient’s overall health. Common treatment options include:
- Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy involves the use of powerful drugs to kill cancer cells or stop their growth. It is often used as a first-line treatment for many blood cancers.
- Radiation Therapy: Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be used alone or in combination with other treatments.
- Stem Cell Transplantation: Stem cell transplantation, also known as a bone marrow transplant, involves replacing damaged or cancerous bone marrow with healthy stem cells. This procedure can be curative for some blood cancers.
- Targeted Therapy: Targeted therapies are drugs that specifically target cancer cells or their unique characteristics, minimizing damage to healthy cells.
- Immunotherapy: Immunotherapy enhances the body’s natural immune response to fight cancer. It has shown promise in treating certain types of blood cancer.
Survival Rates for Blood Cancer
The survival rates for blood cancer vary widely based on factors such as the type of cancer, its stage at diagnosis, and the patient’s age and overall health. Here’s an overview of the five year survival rates for some common blood cancers as per the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance.
- Leukemia: 66.7%
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: 74.3 percent
- Hodgkin lymphoma: 88.9 percent
- Myeloma: 59.8 percent
It’s important to note that these survival rates are general estimates and may not apply to every individual. Advances in cancer research and treatment continue to improve outcomes, and individual factors play a significant role in determining prognosis.
Blood cancer can manifest with a variety of early signs and symptoms. Recognizing these signs and seeking prompt medical attention is crucial for early diagnosis and better treatment outcomes. With advancements in medical research and a range of treatment options available, the prognosis for blood cancer patients has improved significantly in recent years. It is essential for individuals to be proactive about their health, undergo regular check-ups, and consult with healthcare professionals if they experience any concerning symptoms. Early detection, combined with appropriate treatment, can greatly increase the chances of successfully managing and even beating blood cancer.
Want to know more? Talk to an expert online.
Was this article helpful?
- 0 0
Love reading our articles?
Subscribe to never miss a post again!