Blood cancer or Leukaemia is actually a group of diseases, each of which impedes the standard functioning of blood cells and weaken the system gradually. Blood cancer represents a large group of malignancies. This group includes accumulation of cancerous cells in bone marrow, blood and lymphatic system. The lymphatic system consists of lymph nodes, lymphatic vessels, tonsils, sleeping and digestive tract thyroid tissue. Once the malignant blood cells start growing at a rapid rate, they show many visible signs and symptoms of cancer in blood. The symptoms of blood cancer include Breathlessness, skin changes, weight loss, swollen lymph glands etc. Apart from the lymphatic system and blood, the focus of the attack can be on the bone marrow as well.
Symptoms of Blood Cancer
The major symptoms include:
- Heavy breathlessness
- Frequent infections
- Abnormal bleeding from cuts and gums
- Massive blood flows in women during period
- Pain in bones/joints/ribs/back
- Skin changes (Itchiness)
- Abdominal discomfort and swollen stomach
- Swollen lymph glands
- Severe abdominal pain
- A heavy headache and vision problem
- Frequent weight loss
- Difficulty while urinating
- The occurrence of fine rashes or dark spots throughout the body.
- The occurrence of sudden bouts of chill and night sweating.
A short way to remember the symptoms of blood cancer is the acronym “T.E.S.T”
T – Tiredness or fatigue
E – Excessive perspiration/sweating
S – Sore joints and bones
T – Terrible case of unusual bleeding or bruising
Types of Blood Cancer
Primarily there are three types of blood cancer, and each type can have certain variances:
Leukaemia: Leukaemia affects the white blood cells. With a spurt in the multiplicity of the cancerous cells, they either affect bone marrow or circulatory system. While the symptoms are unknown and differ according to the severity of the disease, it is supposed to be triggered by weakened immune system, age and also due to some other blood diseases.
Lymphoma- Lymphocytes are a type of white blood corpuscles (WBC).The cancerous cells directly to affect the lymphocytes lead to Lymphoma.
Myeloma- The cancerous formation affects the plasma (another variety of WBC). The most common form is multiple myelomas.
Symptoms of blood cancer – Leukaemia
- Leukaemia is marked by an acute destruction of health .The major symptoms include anaemia, extreme fatigue, and general weakness.
- Also, one affected by it is likely to sweat excessively and come under bouts of breath shortness in the course of performing day to day functions.
- Vulnerability to germs and infections as well as swelling of the lymph nodes are some of the other fallouts of Leukaemia. Leukaemia can be chronic or acute.
On the other hand, in leukaemia of the acute type, the symptoms are likely to develop with increasing intensity.
Symptoms of blood cancer – Lymphoma
The most typical symptoms of lymphoma include swollen lymphatic node because this cancer affects your lymphatic cells. The swelling is mostly painless in nature.
Leukaemia has the following symptoms:
- Extreme fatigue
- Fullness of abdomen
- Food aversion
- Night sweating
- Loss of weight
Symptoms of blood cancer – Myeloma
- Generic feel of fatigue
- Painful back
- Susceptibility to infection
- Breath shortness
- Bouts of numbness
- Chest pain
- Occurrence of kidney problems can develop because of myeloma.
Causes of Blood cancer:
There are various causes of blood cancer. Some of them are:
- A weakened immune system
- High doses of radiation
- Contact with a harmful chemical called Benzene, used in petrol and the solvent is used in the rubber and plastic industry.
- Genetic disorders; like – Fanconi anaemia, Schwachman- diamond syndrome and down syndrome
- Carcinogenic chemicals and exposure to radiation.
- HIV Infection
- Increase in age
Other than chemo and radiotherapy, the conventional modes of treatment for blood cancer are to attempt stem cells and bone marrow transplantations. Symptoms of blood cancer can occur at any time. Therefore taking proper preventive measures are of utmost importance. Some of them are:
- Taking balanced diet and regular exercise for a healthy lifestyle
- Avoiding processed meat/fish items
- Lowered consumption of Trans or saturated fats
- Regular exposure to fresh air is necessary
- Stay away from herbicides and chemicals
Facts and figures:
– By 2020, 58000 Males and 65000 Females are expected to develop acute symptoms of blood cancer in India.
– Leukaemia and Lymphoma types of blood cancers that are most common in Children, followed by Males, then Females.