What are blood cancers?
Healthy blood cells include a balance of different cell types.
Most blood cancers, also called hematologic cancers, start in the bone marrow, which is where blood is produced. Blood cancers occur when abnormal blood cells start growing out of control, interrupting the function of normal blood cells, which fight off infection and produce new blood cells.
Types of blood cancers
The three main types of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma:
Leukemia is a blood cancer that originates in the blood and bone marrow. It occurs when the body creates too many abnormal white blood cells and interferes with the bone marrow’s ability to make red blood cells and platelets.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes. Hodgkin lymphoma is characterized by the presence of an abnormal lymphocyte called the Reed-Sternberg cell.
Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that begins in the blood’s plasma cells, a type of white blood cell made in the bone marrow.
Blood cancer symptoms
Some common blood cancer symptoms include:
Blood cancer treatment and therapy options
Treatment for blood cancer depends on the type of cancer, your age, how fast the cancer is progressing, where the cancer has spread and other factors. Some common blood cancer treatments include:
Stem cell transplantation: A stem cell transplant infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into the body. Stem cells may be collected from the bone marrow, circulating blood and umbilical cord blood.
Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to interfere with and stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy for blood cancer sometimes involves giving several drugs together in a set regimen. This treatment may also be given before a stem cell transplant.
Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy may be used to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort. It may also be given before a stem cell transplant.