Blood Cancer

Blood Cancer

Blood cancer, (leukemia) is called the cancer of the blood cells. In leukemia, the bone marrow begins to make too many abnormal white blood cells, called leukemia cells. These cells do not function like normal white blood cells. They grow faster than normal cells, do not stop their growth and prove to be harmful to normal cells.

Blood cancer, (leukemia) is called the cancer of the blood cells. In leukemia, the bone marrow begins to make too many abnormal white blood cells, called leukemia cells. These cells do not function like normal white blood cells. They grow faster than normal cells, do not stop their growth and prove to be harmful to normal cells.

Leukemia in India 

About 1 million cases of leukemia are reported annually in India.

 

Types of Blood Cancer

There are four main types of leukemia:

  1. Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) occurs mostly in children and adults. This is the most common form of leukemia. This occurs when the development of blast cells begins in the bone marrow, which are cells that have not fully matured. These normally develop into white blood cells. There are eight different subtypes of AML, these subtypes are determined depending on which cell the leukemia develops from.

The following are the types of AML:

Myeloblastic (Myeloblastic – M0) – on special analysis. 

Myeloblastic (Myeloblastic – M1) – without maturation.

Myeloblastic (Myeloblastic – M2) – with maturation. 

Promyelocytic (Promyelocytic – M3).

Myelomonocytic (Myelomonocytic – M4).

Monocytic (Monocytic – M5).

Erythroleukemia (Erythroleukemia – M6).

Megakaryocytic (Megakaryocytic – M7).

 

  1. Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL)

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) occurs mostly in children. ALL develops rapidly, producing leukemia cells that do not mature properly, replacing healthy cells. Leukemia cells travel with the bloodstream to other organs and tissues, including the brain, liver, lymph nodes and testes, where these cells grow and divide. The growing, dividing, and spreading of these leukemia cells can result in a number of possible symptoms. ALL is generally associated with the production of more B lymphatic cells. B and T cells play active roles in protecting the body from infections and germs and destroying already infected cells. B cells specifically help to prevent the body from being infected by microbes while T cells destroy infected cells.

 

  1. Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia (CML)

Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) mostly affects adults. It is also known as chronic myeloid leukemia. CML is a form of cancer that affects the bone marrow and blood. It begins in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow and then, over time, spreads to the blood. Eventually it spreads to other parts of the body. CML is associated with an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph chromosome).

 

  1. Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL)

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) affects people over the age of 55. It is rarely found in children. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is typically a slow-growing cancer that begins in the lymphocytes of the bone marrow and spreads to the blood. It can spread to organs like lymph nodes and liver etc. When too many abnormal lymphocytes start to develop, normal blood cells can no longer develop and it becomes difficult for the body to fight infection. This is how CLL develops.

 

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Stages of blood cancer (leukemia)

Staging is done after leukemia is diagnosed. Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) are staged based on the type of cells and what the cancer cells look like under a microscope. 

Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) are staged based on WBC count at the time of diagnosis. 

Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are staged based on the presence of immature white blood cells, or myeloblasts, in the blood and bone marrow.

Factors affecting leukemia staging and prognosis:

  1. White blood cell or platelet count
  2. Age
  3. History of prior blood disorders
  4. Chromosome mutations or abnormalities
  5. Any damage to bones
  6. Enlarged liver or spleen

 

Causes of blood cancer (leukemia)

Experts do not know exactly what causes leukemia. Certain things can increase your risk of getting leukemia, such as exposure to large amounts of radiation or certain chemicals, such as benzene. 

You can’t really prevent leukemia, but it may be possible that certain things in your environment can trigger its development. For example, if you smoke, you have a higher risk. 

Family history is another risk factor for leukemia. For example, if one of the identical twins has any type of leukemia, there is a 20% chance that the other twin will also develop cancer within a year.

 

Prevention of blood cancer (leukemia)

There is no known way to prevent most types of leukemia. The risk of getting some types of leukemia can be prevented by not using or being exposed to high doses of radiation, the chemical benzene, smoking and other tobacco.

 

Blood cancer (leukemia) test

Leukemia can be diagnosed by the following tests:

  • Physical examination

Your doctor will check for physical signs of leukemia, such as pale skin due to anemia, swollen lymph nodes, and an increase in the size of the liver or spleen.

  • Blood Test

By looking at a sample of your blood, your doctor determines whether you have abnormal levels of white blood cells or platelets in your body – which indicate leukemia.

  • Bone Marrow Testing 

Your doctor may remove a sample of bone marrow from your hip bone and send it to a laboratory for testing. Tests for your leukemia cells may show certain symptoms that are used to determine your treatment options.

You may have additional tests to confirm the diagnosis and to find out the type and extent of leukemia in your body. Some types of leukemia are classified into stages, giving an idea of ​​the severity of the disease.

 

Treatment of blood cancer (leukemia)

Treatment for leukemia depends on several factors. Your doctor determines your treatment options based on your age and overall health, the type of leukemia and its spread in the body.

Common treatments used for leukemia include the following:

  1. Chemotherapy – Chemotherapy is the major form of treatment for leukemia. This treatment uses chemicals to kill leukemia cells. Depending on what type of leukemia you have, you may be treated with a combination of one or more drugs. These drugs come as a pill or an injection. are given as
  2. Biological therapy – Biological therapy – Biological therapy uses treatments that help your immune system recognize and kill leukemia cells.
  3. Targeted therapy – Targeted therapy uses drugs that attack specific weaknesses within your cancer cells.
  4. Radiation therapy – Radiation therapy uses X-rays or other high-energy beams to damage leukemia cells and stop their growth. Radiation can be used on a specific area of ​​the body or radiation can be used on the whole body. Radiation therapy may also be used to prepare for stem cell transplantation.
  5. Stem cell transplant – In a stem cell transplant your diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy bone marrow. Before a stem cell transplant, high doses of chemotherapy or radiation therapy to destroy your diseased bone marrow Is given. You are then given an infusion of blood-forming stem cells that help the bone marrow regenerate.

 

Some FAQ

  • What are the foods to avoid during Blood Cancer?
  1. In leukemia, you should avoid eating junk food and should stay away from fried food especially. Try to keep the amount of salt you use in your food down.
  2. Cut down on the amount of sodium in your diet.
  3. Additionally, you should avoid consuming processed and preserved foods. In refined foods (white bread, pasta, white rice, and sugar), trans fatty acids are found in processed foods.
  4. You should avoid the following foods as they can interfere with the treatment of leukemia or encourage cancer cell growth:
  • Do not consume milk products.
  • Consuming gluten made from wheat may interfere with the treatment of leukemia.
  • Do not use corn.
  • Soy
  • Food additives.
  • Fried foods can slow down your recovery so don’t use them at all.
  • Use of coffee, tobacco, alcohol, and other stimulants can be extremely harmful, so avoid them as much as possible.

 

  • What to eat in blood cancer (leukemia)?
  1. Use organic fruits.
  2. The diet should be high in protein and carbohydrates, dairy, fruits and vegetables and very little fat.
  3. Chemotherapy can cause dehydration, keep drinking water and fluids to avoid dehydration.
  4. Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and vegetables are high sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals that can potentially help fight cancer cells.

    5. Steamed Vegetables: The best process to extract nutrients from any type of vegetable like broccoli, mushroom, carrot, cabbage,           zucchini etc. is to cook them properly. In addition, soups and low-sodium vegetable juices made from spinach, kale, and mustard         greens can also be beneficial to your health.

  6. Whole grains: 100 percent whole grain foods such as brown rice, buckwheat and quinoa provide a larger amount of nutrients than        refined grains.

  7. Protein: Protein may provide relief from nausea and vomiting caused by leukemia chemotherapy treatment. Protein also strengthens the body and removes weakness caused by chemotherapy.

  8. If you are suffering from constipation and heartburn problems, increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Be sure to consult your dietician before following any diet plan.

       

(Disclaimer: The information in this part of the article is for educational purposes only. All results must be clinically correlated with patient data in order to make an accurate diagnosis.)


References:

  1. National Health Service. UK; Overview – Multiple myeloma
  2. Bloodwise. Blood cancer treatments and side effects.
  3. Bloodwise. What is blood Cancer ?

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