What is Blood Cancer?
What is Blood Cancer? Blood cancer or leukemia is a cancer that attacks white blood cells. White blood cells are blood cells that serve to protect the body against foreign objects or diseases. These white blood cells are produced by the spinal cord.
Under normal conditions, white blood cells will develop regularly when the body needs it to eradicate the emerging infections. Yet another case with people with blood cancer. Bone marrow will produce abnormal white blood cells, can not function properly, and excessively. Excessive amounts will result in accumulation in the bone marrow so that healthy blood cells will be reduced.
In addition to accumulate, abnormal cells can also spread to other organs, such as liver, lymph, lung, kidney, even down to the brain and spine.
Types of Blood Cancer
There are different types of blood cancer. Based on the speed of its development, this cancer can be grouped into acute and chronic.
Acute blood cancer develops rapidly due to the addition of abnormal white blood cells or immature cells that can not function normally. This growth is very rapid and so is its spread into the bloodstream. This type should be dealt with immediately. If left unchecked, the body will be deprived of oxygen and the body’s immunity to disease or infection decreases.
Meanwhile, chronic blood cancer develops slowly and in the long run. White blood cells that should have died will remain alive and accumulate in the bloodstream, bone marrow, and other related organs. These cells are more mature so that they can function well for a while, therefore, the symptoms tend not to be immediately felt so newly diagnosed after many years.
Blood cancer can also be categorized by the type of white blood cell that is attacked. Blood cancer that attacks lymph cells is known as lymph node leukemia and which attacks the myeloid cells is called myelogenous leukemia.
Based on the two groupings above, there are four types of blood cancer that most often occur. Here’s an explanation for each type.
- Acute lymphatic leukemia or acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
ALL can inhibit lymphocyte function so that the sufferer has the potential to have a serious infection. Blood cancer is generally diidap by children, but can also attack adults.
- Acute myelogenous leukemia or acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
This is a type of blood cancer that generally affects adults. But AML can also be diidap by children and adolescents. This cancer will form myeloid cells that are not perfect and can clog blood vessels.
- Chronic lymphatic leukemia or chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
This type of blood cancer is only experienced by adults. CLL is generally newly detected at an advanced stage because patients tend not to feel the symptoms for a long time.
- Chronic myelogen leukemia or Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
This type of blood cancer is mostly suffered by people with age above 20 years. CML has two stages. In the first stage, abnormal cells will develop slowly. When entering the second stage, the number of abnormal cells will increase rapidly so it will decrease drastically.
In general, blood cancer or leukemia concerns the bone marrow that became the place of making white blood cells. Cells that are generally effective to eradicate this infection grows abnormally so that eventually make the immune system does not work optimally.
Symptoms of Blood Cancer
Symptoms of blood cancer vary widely. Each patient usually experience different indications, depending on the type of blood cancer diidap.
Indications of this cancer also tend to be difficult to recognize because it tends to be similar to other conditions, such as flu. Therefore, we need to be aware of common symptoms that are not getting better or subside, such as:
- Lack or sustained fatigue.
- Throws up.
- Excessive sweating, especially at night.
- Pain in bone or joints.
- Weight loss.
- Swelling of lymphatic stains, liver, or spleen.
- Severe or frequent infection appears.
- Easy bleeding (eg frequent nosebleeds) or bruises.
- Red spots appear on the skin.
If you or your child has any of the above symptoms, get in touch immediately and see a doctor. Especially for symptoms that often recur or do not improve.
Causes and Risk Factors for Blood Cancer
The underlying cause of blood cancer is not known for certain. However, it is thought that DNA mutations in white blood cells cause changes in the action of each cell. In addition, other changes in white blood cells due to gene and environmental factors are also thought to play a role in triggering leukemia.
Factors suspected to increase the risk of blood cancer include:
- Genetic or genetic factors. Patients with Down syndrome or other rare genetic disorders increase the risk of acute leukemia. While chronic lymphatic leukemia is often inherited in the family and usually experienced by men. In addition, family history of leukemia can also increase the risk of experiencing the same disease.
- Never had cancer treatment. Certain chemotherapy or radiotherapy is thought to trigger blood cancer.
- Never experience exposure to high levels of radiation or certain chemicals. For example, people who have been involved in accidents related to nuclear reactors or have exposure to chemicals such as benzene.
- Smoke. Cigarettes will not only increase the risk of blood cancer (especially acute myelogenic leukemia), but also various other diseases.
However, most people at high risk do not have leukemia. On the other hand, people with leukemia are often found in people who do not have these risks.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Blood Cancer
In the early stages, your doctor will ask you for any symptoms before checking your physical condition. On physical examination, the doctor will look for some signs of leukemia such as pale skin from anemia, swelling of the lymph nodes, and liver and spleen were enlarged. If doctors suspect you suffer from blood cancer, your doctor may recommend a more detailed examination that includes blood tests and a bone marrow biopsy.
In blood tests, the doctor will look for abnormalities of white blood cell count or platelet. Patients with leukemia generally have white blood cell levels are much higher than normal.
In addition, your doctor may advise you to do a spinal cord test. At this examination, the doctor will use a long thin needle to take a sample of your spinal cord tissue. These tissue samples will then be further examined in the laboratory to show the type of blood cancer you are experiencing as well as the most appropriate treatment options.
Blood Cancer Treatment
After a positive blood cancer diagnosis, the doctor will discuss appropriate treatment steps. The type of treatment you will undergo depends on your age, your health condition, and the type or stage of your blood cancer.
Here is a method of treatment that is generally recommended to treat blood cancer, among others:
- Chemotherapy is the most common treatment option for leukemia. Chemotherapy treatments use chemicals to kill blood cancer cells.
- Radiotherapy. This treatment technique uses X-rays to destroy and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. Radiotherapy can be done only in certain areas of the cancer, or on the whole body, depending on your condition. Radiotherapy can also be done for the preparation of stem cell transplantation.
- Stem cell transplantation or stem cell to replace damaged bone marrow with healthy ones. The stem cells used can come from your own body or the body of another person as a donor. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy will usually be done as a preparatory step before undergoing this transplant procedure.
- Focused therapy to attack vulnerable parts in cancer cells.
- Biological therapy to help the immune system recognize and attack cancer cells.
- Waiting with supervision. It is intended for patients with chronic lymphatic leukemia. In this therapy, careful observation is made to see the development of the disease. This therapy can also be done if a person has been proven to have chronic lymphatic leukemia, but does not experience symptoms that indicate the disease.