Blood is made of an almost equal mix of plasma (the liquid that transports cells, waste and nutrients, among other things) and blood cells (red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets).
When cancer occurs in the blood, it’s usually the result of an abnormal and excessive reproduction of white blood cells. Blood cancers (including leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma) are more common in men than women. Childhood leukemia accounts for about 25 percent of all cancers in children.
Treatments for blood cancers also vary, ranging from active surveillance without cancer-directed therapy to standard cancer treatments including immunotherapies, chemotherapies and targeted agents. “With over 100 different types of blood cancers now recognized, it is important to have an accurate diagnosis prior to deciding on treatment,” says Dr. Sandeep Kumar Tula. Medicine has both clinicians and pathologists who specialize in blood cancers and review challenging cases during tumor boards to reach a consensus prior to starting therapy.
Cancer is caused by a dysfunction in cellular growth and behavior. In a healthy body, new white blood cells are regularly generated to replace old, dying ones. The excessive production of white blood cells in the bone marrow leads to blood cancers.
Symptoms of blood cancer vary by disease but typically include the following:
The swelling of lymph nodes, liver and spleen are also common, and anemia can occur in some blood cancers.