Blood Cancer: Advanced, Experienced Care for Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma
What is blood cancer?
Blood cancer, also known as hematologic cancer, affects the function and production of blood cells. In most cases, the normal development of blood cells is disrupted by uncontrollable growth. The abnormality of these cells can compromise the blood’s ability to fight infection or stop uncontrolled bleeding.
What are the types of cancer that affect the blood?
There are three main types of blood cancer, each of which have different variations:
- Multiple myeloma – This blood cancer affects the plasma cells in bone marrow, which are white blood cells that produce antibodies for the purpose of fighting infections. It is “multiple” myeloma because it is generally found in multiple places in the body. However, “solitary myeloma” also exist.
- Leukemia – Leukemia, which originates in blood-forming tissues, involves an overproduction of white blood cells that can occur in the blood (myelogenous leukemia) or bone marrow (lymphocytic leukemia). This overproduction of cells crowds out normal blood cells, which leads to serious bleeding and infection.
- Lymphoma – Lymphoma develops in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and nodes that are part of the circulatory system and an essential part of the immune system. Lymphoma attacks infection-fighting cells (lymphocytes), which are found in the lymph nodes, thymus, bone marrow, spleen and other areas of the body. Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma affect different kinds of lymphocytes.
What increases a person’s risk for developing blood cancer?
There are several factors, behaviors and exposures that can increase your risk for developing leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. These include:
- Certain chemical exposures
- Prior cancer treatment
- Exposure to radiation
- Certain blood disorders
- Certain genetic syndromes
- Chromosomal disorders – Down syndrome & Trisomy 8
- Family history of lymphoma
- Advanced age
- Being male
- Being African-American
What are the risk factors for developing blood cancers?
There is no known cause for blood cancers… and therefore no way to prevent them. However, risk of developing leukemia can be reduced by avoiding smoking, high levels of radiation and exposure to benzene. Minimizing these and other factors could also reduce risk for lymphoma and myeloma.
What are the symptoms of blood cancers?
Symptoms for blood cancer can vary widely depending on which blood cancer you have, where it is in the body and other factors. Here are the most common symptoms by cancer type:
- Persistent, severe bone pain
- Broken bones
- Recurrent infections
- Nausea & vomiting
- Abnormal bleeding
- Problems urinating
- Vision problems
- Fever or night sweats
- Flu-like symptoms
- Slowly healing cuts
- Weakness or fatigue
- Pale skin
- Abnormal reaction to insect bites
- Bleeding gums
- Small red spots under the skin
- Painless swelling of lymph nodes – neck, armpit, groin
- Persistent fatigue
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
How are these diseases diagnosed?
Diagnosis for most cases of blood cancer usually starts with symptoms and a visit to the primary care doctor. From there, blood tests will either confirm or rule out the possibility of having blood cancer. If confirmed, referral to a specialist leads to further tests to determine the type and stage of cancer.
How do oncologist-hematologists treat blood cancer?
Treatment for blood cancer depends on the type of cancer as well as its rate of progression, its stage, where it has spread, the patient’s age, and other factors. Treatments can be used alone when appropriate but are often combined with other therapies to maximize the chances for remission. Here are the treatment methods generally used for treating blood cancers:
- Chemotherapy – Anticancer drugs can interfere with and stop the growth of cancer cells, and they’re often combined and delivered in a specific regimen.
- Immunotherapy – Certain medications can enlist the body’s immune system to fight cancer or set certain conditions that bolster the efforts of other treatments.
- Targeted therapy – Today, we have anticancer drugs that directly, purposefully target specific attributes or changes in cancer cells.
- Radiation therapy – With careful planning and highly controlled delivery, we use radiation to harm cancer cells repeatedly until they are destroyed, often in combination with other treatment modalities.
- Stem cell transplant – Also known as a bone marrow transplant, transplanting stem cells permits our doctors to deliver doses of chemo and/or radiation, which would cause significant damage to the bone marrow and, with it, production of blood cells.
Why should I choose Alpha Med Physicians Group to treat my blood cancer?
Alpha Med physicians have been providing top-quality, community-based care for blood cancers in the greater Chicago area for decades. We follow the most advanced protocols, use leading-edge treatments and dedicate our hearts and minds to helping you prevail over leukemia, myeloma, lymphoma and their variations. Trust your or your loved one’s care to know-how, capability and commitment.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment for blood cancer treatment in Tinley Park, Homewood, Palos Heights and the greater Chicago area, call 708-928-5040. You can also request an appointment the convenient online form on this page.