Blood cancer is a medical condition in which blood-forming tissues begin to grow out of control. Blood cancer affects the production and function of blood cells. Most blood cancers begin in the bone marrow and lymphatic system.
Our bone marrow makes up the components of blood, such as white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), and platelets. In blood cancer, the normal process of blood cell formation is interrupted and abnormal blood cells begin to grow out of control. These abnormal cancer cells interfere with the normal functions of cells and develop numerous ailments.
The following are the three main types of blood cancer:
- Leukemia: This is the most common form of blood cancer and develops when the abnormal white blood cells begin to grow rapidly. Leukemia interrupts the normal functioning of the white blood cells, such as fighting infection. It also affects the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells and platelets.
- myeloma: This cancer occurs when the plasma cells in the blood grow abnormally. Myeloma interferes with your body’s production of antibodies, which weakens the immune system.
- lymphoma: This blood cancer affects the lymphatic system and impairs our immune system.
What Are the Early Signs and Symptoms of Blood Cancer?
Blood cancer is one of the most crucial elements in our body. As blood circulates in our body, it delivers oxygen, nutrients, hormones and antibodies to organs and removes waste products. When cancer occurs in the blood, it affects its functioning and causes numerous ailments. Symptoms of blood cancers vary depending on their type.
In general, blood cancer in the early stages does not present any distinctive symptoms. Still, the following signs and symptoms are alarming and you should talk to your doctor about them:
- slow healing: If a wound takes longer to heal, don’t ignore it and see your doctor. Individuals with leukemia often bleed and bruise due to low platelet counts, which are critical for blood clotting and wound healing.
- Get sick quickly: People with blood cancers have low levels of white blood cells and plasma cells, which produce antibodies and protect us against a host of infections. Therefore, a person with blood cancer often gets sick and stays sick longer than usual.
- Decreased Immunity: The person with blood cancer has low immunity due to a lack of lymphatic drainage and decreased disease-fighting blood cells, leading to frequent infections.
- Lumps and Swelling: A person may experience swelling or an unusual mass in the lymph nodes, such as armpits, tonsils, or testicles.
- Anal Bleeding: Bloody discharge may be present during defecation.
- Change in urinary habits: A person with blood cancer may experience a burning sensation or blood in the urine (hematuria).
- Skin changes: The person with blood cancer will have frequent bruising, rashes, and bleeding. The color of these symptoms may look different on different skin tones.
- Whiteness: Individuals with blood cancers may look unusually pale because they have too few red blood cells in their system.
- Frequent mild fever
- Excessive fatigue that does not improve with sleep or rest
- Unexpected weight loss
- Night sweat
- Weight loss even after a proper diet
- Stomach ache
- Unexplained shortness of breath and cough
- Constant mild to moderate back and neck pain
- A person with blood and bone marrow cancer experiences pain in bones and joints.
Leukemia is also common in children. Therefore, watch for any of the following signs and symptoms in your children:
- get tired quickly
- Bleed and bruise easily, even with a light punch
- Frequent infections and mild fever
- Decreased appetite
- sudden weight loss
- Coughing and difficulty breathing
- Pain in bones and joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
- To attack
- Bleeding and swollen gums
- Swelling in the abdomen, face and arms
In some cases of chronic leukemia, a person does not develop early symptoms and the condition goes unnoticed for a long time. But if you experience any of the above symptoms or feel unwell for unknown reasons, please contact a health professional.