Blood cancer is a medical condition in which blood-forming tissues start growing uncontrollably. Blood cancer affects the production and functioning of the blood cells. Most blood cancers start in the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.
Our bone marrow forms the component of blood, such as white blood cells (WBCs), red blood cells (RBCs), and platelets. In blood cancer, the usual blood cell formation process gets interrupted, and abnormal blood cells start growing uncontrollably. These abnormal cancerous cells interfere with the normal functions of cells and develop numerous ailments.
The following are the three main types of blood cancers:
- Leukemia: This is the most common type of blood cancer and develops when the abnormal white blood cells start rapidly growing. Leukemia interrupts the normal functioning of the white blood cells, such as fighting infection. It also affects bone marrow functioning to produce red blood cells and platelets.
- Myeloma: This cancer develops when the plasma cells in the blood start growing abnormally. Myeloma interferes antibodies production in your body, 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 involves one of the most crucial elements in our body. As blood circulates in our body, it supplies oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and antibodies to organs and removes waste toxins. When cancer occurs in the blood, it affects its functioning and produces countless ailments. Symptoms of blood cancer vary depending on their types.
Generally, blood cancer doesn’t show any differentiating symptoms in the early stages. Still, the following signs and symptoms are alarming, and you should talk to your doctor about them:
- Slow healing: When a wound takes a longer time to heal, do not ignore it and consult your doctor. Persons with Leukemia have frequent bleeding and bruising due to the low levels of platelets, which are crucial to blood clotting and wound healing.
- Quickly gets sick: People with blood cancer have low levels of white blood cells and plasma cells, which produce antibodies and protect us from numerous infections. Therefore, a person with blood cancer frequently gets sick and remains ill for longer than usual.
- Diminished immunity: The person with blood cancer has low immunity due to a lack of lymphatic drainage and reduced 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.
- Rectal bleeding: Bloody discharge can 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 cancers gets frequent bruises, rashes, and bleeding. The color of these symptoms can look dissimilar on different skin tones.
- Pallor: Persons with blood cancers may look unusually pale as they have too few red blood cells in their system.
- Frequent low-grade fever
- Excessive tiredness that doesn’t improve with sleep or rest
- Unexpected weight loss
- Night sweats
- Weight loss even after a proper diet
- Abdominal pain
- Unexplainable breathlessness 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, look out for any of the following signs and symptoms in your kids:
- Easily get tired
- Easy bleeding and bruising, even with a slight bump
- Frequent infections and mild fever
- Decreased appetite
- Sudden weight loss
- Coughing and difficulty in breathing
- Pain in bones and joints
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Bleeding and swollen gums
- Swelling in the abdomen, face, and arms
In some chronic leukemia cases, a person doesn’t develop early symptoms, and the condition remains unnoticed for a long time. But, if you experience any of the above manifestations or feel unwell for unknown reasons, talk to a health expert.