Blood cancers occur when abnormal blood cells start growing rapidly and interrupt the function of normal blood cells. Normal blood cells are responsible for fighting infections and creating new blood cells. When abnormal blood cells grow out of control, the immune system weakens and puts the body at risk for infection and illness.
Types of blood cancer
There are three major types of blood cancer. Though they act differently, each one causes your bone marrow and lymphatic system to make blood cells that don’t work as well as they should. They include:
Leukemia causes bone marrow to produce abnormal white blood cells. This can cause flu-like symptoms, loss of appetite and sudden weight loss.
Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow and other parts of the body. Signs of lymphoma include swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin, persistent fatigue, fever, night sweats, shortness of breath and unexplained weight loss.
Myeloma is a cancer of the body’s plasma cells, which originate in the bone marrow. This disease can damage the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.
Blood cancer treatment options
Blood cancer treatments may include:
- Stem cell transplant
Also known as a bone marrow transplant, transplanting stem cells replaces unhealthy marrow with healthy marrow.
Immunotherapy is a treatment that uses certain parts of a person’s immune system to fight disease, like cancer.
- Targeted therapy
Targeted therapy uses medication to target and block specific genes, proteins, or tissues contributing to cancer growth and survival.
- Radiation therapy
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses beams of intense energy to kill cancer cells.
Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to neutralize fast-growing, abnormal cells in your body.
January is blood donor month. If you’d like to learn more about blood cancer types, treatment options or becoming a donor, call 708-342-1900. The skilled specialists at Alpha Med Physicians Group have been providing top-quality, community-based care for blood cancers in the greater Chicago area for decades.