Blood cancer is a deadly disease which affects the blood, bone marrow & the lymphatic system of a person. Immunity system of patients with blood cancer automatically weakens. Sometimes, this condition may hurt other body parts as well causing other types of cancer. Blood cancer is not easily diagnosed & there are more than two billion patients who are dying every year due to blood cancer. Based on research, there are more than 70,000 adults & 6,500 children who are diagnosed with leukemia each year. Various blood cancer treatments like radiation & chemotherapy are available to help patients fight this fatal disease. As per the recommendation of oncologists, patients can undergo suitable treatments.
What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancer is a form of cancer or tumor which mainly affects the body’s circulatory system consisting of the blood vessels. Blood cancer can affect the person’s blood, bone marrow, lymphatic system & lymph & can also spread (metastasize) to other surrounding organs of the body. Blood cancer basically affects the production of blood cells as well as altering their functioning. Most blood cancers however are found to originate in bone marrow inside bones where the blood cells are produced.
Although exact cause of blood cancer is not yet known, various factors are associated with its development in patient’s body. Some of the risk factors which may cause blood cancer are stated below.
- Personal history of certain blood disorders
- Advanced age
- Exposure to certain chemicals
- Exposure to radiation or certain types of chemotherapy
- Certain types of infections
- Compromised immune system due to conditions as HIV/AIDS
- Taking corticosteroids
- Organ transplant
- Family history of blood cancer
Following are commonly seen signs & symptoms of blood cancer.
- Poor Blood Clotting – As crude white blood cells expel blood platelets, which are necessary for blood clotting, the patient may bleed or bruise easily & heal slowly.
- Affected Immune System – Patient’s white blood cells, which are necessary for fighting off infection, may be suppressed. Patients may therefore observe frequent infections or the immune system may affect other healthy body cells.
- Anemia – Due to shortage of healthy red blood cells, patients may suffer from anemia which may lead to difficulty in respiration (dyspnea) & pallor disease.
- Other Symptoms – Patients may also experience fever, nausea, night sweats, chills, flu-like symptoms & tiredness. When the spleen or liver of patients become enlarged the patients may feel full & will eat less, resulting in major weight loss. Headache is commonly seen among patients whose cancerous cells have invaded the central nervous system.
Commonly seen types of blood cancer are listed below.
- Leukemia – This form of blood cancer originates in blood-producing tissue.
- Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – This type of blood cancer originates in the lymphatic system from cells that are known as ‘lymphocytes’. These are a type of white blood cells that are responsible for antibiotic function in the body by fighting against infections.
- Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – This form of blood cancer develops from lymphocytes in the lymphatic system. This is a type of blood cancer which is signified by abnormal levels of B lymphocyte which is abnormal in nature & causes problems.
- Multiple Myeloma – This type of cancer originates in plasma cells in the blood, which is a type of white blood cell that is produced in bone marrow.
There are various methods that can be used to successfully treat blood cancer. Surgeons/specialists will decide on the best & most suitable blood cancer treatment method depending upon several factors such as the type of cancer, patient’s age & the rate of metastasizing (spreading) of the cancer & other similar factors. Following are different blood cancer treatments that are commonly available.
- Stem Cell Transplantation – This treatment method aims to infuse healthy blood-forming cells in the body. These stem cells can be sourced from the bone marrow, peripheral blood and the umbilical cord blood.
- Chemotherapy – This is an effective treatment method for blood cancer in its earlier stages. This method aims to disable production & spread of cancerous cells in the body. This therapy of treatment however requires medicinal drugs to be given in a set regimen with regular periods of intervals. This treatment may also be performed before beginning stem cell transplantation.
- Radiation Therapy – Radiation therapy for treatment of blood cancer involves using high-energy beams of x-rays or other particles to destroy cancerous cells inside the body. This is a targeted yet non-invasive blood cancer treatment method which is usually given as a stand-alone procedure or may be performed before stem cell transplantation.
Patients should start by seeing oncologists if they experience severe signs or symptoms that are worrisome. Blood cancer can be diagnosed by examining samples of patient’s blood & bone marrow under a microscope. Surgeons may recommend lymph node biopsy test as well.
- Blood Test – Condition of leukemia is suspected if a blood test shows large number of abnormality in white blood cells & less number of healthy red blood cells, white blood cells & platelets.
- Bone Marrow Biopsy – In this test, some amount of fluid is usually collected from patient’s bone marrow with a syringe. Along with it, a small core of bone marrow is also removed. Surgeons then examine these samples under a microscope. Doctors will also evaluate changes in genes that may be essential for classifying & following the disease.
- Lymph Node Biopsy – When patients have enlarged lymph nodes, oncologists may recommend a biopsy to check if this is related to leukemia. Tissues are taken from the affected lymph node & assessed under a microscope.
- Lumbar Puncture – Surgeons may suggest a lumbar puncture to the patients’ spine for diagnosing blood cancer. A needle is inserted for this purpose into a space between bones in patient’s lower back. Some amount of fluid is taken from around patient’s spine & observed under a microscope.
- Pre-Appointment Restrictions – At the time patients make an appointment, they should be sure to ask if there’s anything they need to do in advance, such as restricting the diet.
- Making a Note of Symptoms – Patients should write down any serious symptoms that they are experiencing, including any that may seem irrelevant to reason for which they have scheduled the appointment.
- Stress – Patients should discuss important information, including any life changes or major stresses with oncologists.
- Medications – Patients should frankly tell oncologists regarding the medications, supplements or vitamins that they are taking.
Patients should consider taking a friend or family member along with for the initial appointment. This is because, sometimes it can be hard to remember all the details of information provided by the surgeon during initial appointment. Someone who accompanies the patient may understand & remember information that patients’ sometimes forgot.
Patients can undergo blood cancer treatment after diagnosis. However, they may have certain concerns & questions regarding the treatment method. Following is list of questions, which may help patients understand the procedure completely. Patients should openly ask the following important questions to oncologists prior to undergoing treatment.
- Do I have blood cancer?
- What type of blood cancer do I have?
- Do I need any other tests?
- Does my disease need any immediate treatment?
- What are the treatment alternatives for my blood cancer?
- Can any of these treatments cure my blood cancer?
- What are the potential complications of each treatment alternative?
- Which treatment you feel is best suited for my condition?
- How will this treatment affect my routine life? Can I go to work after treatment?
In addition to the above questions, patients should be prepared to ask as many questions as possible to the surgeon. Patients should not hesitate to ask any doubts they are having during the appointment.
Follow-up care during recovery phase following blood cancer treatment is an essential part of the overall treatment plan. Regular health check-ups ensure that any changes in patient’s health are noted. Oncologists can identify the abnormalities & treat them as soon as possible. Essential checkups may include a physical evaluation, several blood tests, x-rays or bone marrow aspirations. Oncologists will elaborate the entire follow-up plan to the patient. Blood cancer treatments can lead to other psychological problems & stress as well. Surgeons may provide supportive care to control these problems & may eventually improve the quality of life after blood cancer treatments. Patients may easily get infected during recovery & for which they may receive antibiotics & certain drugs to help protect them.
Some complications may occur in patients after blood cancer treatment. Some of these can be extremely serious & even life threatening. Few complications of blood cancer are listed below.
- Broken bones
- Hypercalcemia (increased calcium in the blood)
- Immune deficiency
- Hyperviscosity syndrome (extremely thickened blood)
- Frequent infections
- Kidney failure
- Spread of cancer
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Recurrence of blood cancer after remission
Patients can help minimize risk of complications by proper following of the treatment plan designed by oncologists.
Patients with blood cancer can get relief after treatment. Treatments like chemotherapy & radiation can destroy sick blood cells. Blood cancer treatment may be stressful for patients but at the same time, they may feel relaxed hoping for good results following blood cancer treatment. Patients may find it tough not to worry about blood cancer coming back. Recurrence of blood cancer is a very usual concern in most for patients who have had blood cancer. It may take some time to cope-up with this fear. But it may help to understand that like many other blood cancer survivors, they can also live a pleasant life thereafter.
Medical Tourism in India for Blood Cancer Treatments
India is well known as one of the best destinations for international patients who are seeking excellent quality yet affordable blood cancer treatments beyond their homeland. India is home to a large network of world-class hospitals & clinics that are spread across all major cities in India. These hospitals & healthcare facilities are equipped with the best & latest in medical and surgical technology. Management of these globally renowned hospitals & clinics are in the hands of the top-most medical experts & specialists.
Affordable Blood Cancer Treatments with Travcure Medical Tourism
Travcure Medical Tourism is well-known for offering high-quality blood cancer treatments using the best of equipments at the most affordable cost to their international patients. Many patients from abroad choose Travcure each year to get successful blood cancer treatments at budget price in the hands of top surgeons & doctors available in the country.
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