Blood Cancer: Let's Fight It!
Beating cancer needs courage and support. It must be hard, but surely not impossible. Many cancer survivors have successfully gained victory over it and are living normal and happy lives now.
In this article, we will talk about blood cancer and how to cope with it.
Understanding Blood Cancer: What it is and how it affects the body?
The blood is made of distinct types of blood cells produced in the bone marrow. There are three major types of blood cells: red blood cells (which carry oxygen), platelets (which help in blood clotting), and white blood cells (which fights infection).
Blood cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the blood-forming cells of the bone marrow. In the case of blood cancer, these cells begin to develop abnormally and uncontrollably, impeding normal blood cell production leading to reduction in Hb platelet count, increase or reduction of WBC.
The abnormal blood cells may also accumulate in the bone marrow and other areas of the body, impairing organ and tissue functions. The main types of blood cancer are acute and chronic leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma. Lymphoma impacts the lymphatic system, whereas leukemia affects the blood and bone marrow. Myeloma is a type of plasma cell disorder.
Blood cancer can strike anyone at any age, but it is more common in young and older people. It can be caused by genetic mutations, exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, or a weakened immune system like HIV, autoimmune diseases, etc.
Signs and Symptoms of Blood Cancer:
Early detection and treatment can significantly improve the chances of survival and remission. While some symptoms of blood cancer can be subtle, it is important to be aware of the signs and to seek medical attention if you experience any of the following:
- Abdominal mass
- Massive splenomegaly
- Joint pain
- Night sweats
- Family history of blood cancer or other types of cancer
- Unexplained thrombosis
If you experience any of these symptoms, it's essential to consult a Haematologist for additional assessment and testing. While these symptoms can be caused by various health conditions, early detection and treatment of blood cancer can improve patient outcomes and quality of life.
Diagnosis and Treatment: The Various Methods and Their Effectiveness
Diagnosing blood cancer requires a series of tests and procedures to determine the type and extent of the cancer. Some common methods of diagnosis include:
Complete blood picture and peripheral smear
These tests can identify abnormal blood cell counts and detect cancer cells in the blood.
Bone marrow biopsy
The presence of abnormal cells is examined in a small sample of bone marrow extracted from the hip bone. The aspirated sample is sent for further tests like immunophenotyping, karyotyping and genetic assays.
Once blood cancer has been diagnosed, the best course of therapy depends on several factors, including the patient's age and overall health, stage and type of cancer. The type of blood cancer plays a major role in treatment options. Many blood cancers do not require treatment and simple close follow-up is sufficient.
Some common treatments for blood cancer include:
- CAR-T cell therapy
- Blood and Bone marrow transplantation
Blood cancer patients should work closely with their healthcare team to create a personalized treatment plan that takes into account their particular health goals and needs. With proper diagnosis and treatment, many patients with blood cancer can achieve remission and live long, healthy lives.
What are the new treatment options for blood cancer?
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) which was once a dreadful disease has many treatment options which helps in prolonging and a good quality of life.
Many new advances in blood cancer treatment have happened in the last few years with the advent of new blood cancer drugs.
Emotional and psychological effects of blood cancer: Coping with the diagnosis and treatment!
Being diagnosed with blood cancer can be a challenging and emotionally overwhelming experience for both patients and their loved ones.
Here are some of the emotional and psychological effects that blood cancer patients may experience, as well as some coping strategies they can adapt to overcome the disease stress:
Anxiety and Depression
Coping strategies: For help controlling anxiety and sadness, talk with a therapist or counselor. Joining a support group or connecting with others who have had similar experiences can also provide a sense of community and help feel less lonely.
Fear and Uncertainty
A cancer diagnosis can bring a sense of fear and uncertainty about the future. Patients may worry about the effectiveness of treatment and the possibility of a relapse.
Coping strategies: Learning as much as possible about the disease and treatment options can help alleviate some of the fear and uncertainty. Asking questions and communicating with healthcare providers can also provide clarity and reassurance.
Body Image Issues
Blood cancer and its treatments can affect a person's physical appearance, leading to concerns about body image.
Coping strategies: Receiving encouragement from loved ones and engaging in self-esteem-boosting activities might assist in enhancing body image and its related issues. Speaking with a counselor or therapist can also provide a secure environment for you to discuss your feelings and worries about changes in the body.
While coping with the difficulties of blood cancer, patients can improve their overall quality of life and manage cancer's emotional and psychological impacts by staying in touch with friends, family, and medical professionals, looking for support in the community, and engaging in self-care.
Small steps every day with a positive outlook and determination will make you reach your goal of being cancer-free.