September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month
September is blood cancer awareness month and the hope is that this blog post raises awareness for those who have or continue to suffer from different blood cancers. Over 1.2 million people have had or have blood cancer. Blood cancer may look different from other cancers in that there is not one singular tumor in an exact local area. Click to continue reading more about blood cancers and how they are caught, treated, and to raise general awareness.
What are Blood Cancers?
Cancer can form in any part of the body. Cancer is defined as the rapid growth of malignant cells that greatly multiply to attack healthy cells. Each of the following cancers all affect different parts of the blood. There are three main types of blood cancer including leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Leukemia is known as cancer that affects the lymphatic system and bone marrow. This involves white blood cells and the cancer attacks them to not function as they should. White blood cells are important because they are part of how our body fights off infectious diseases. When their function is compromised, then our body’s ability to fight infection is also compromised. The symptoms of leukemia include bone pain and tenderness, easy bleeding and bruising, frequent infections, weakness and fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, small red spots on the skin, and sweating at night. Leukemia first occurs when the DNA is not replicated correctly and forms a mutation in the code. The cells that have this cancer are then rapidly dividing and make the presence of the cancer grow. Acute leukemia is when the blood cells divide very quickly and is more aggressive.
Leukemia is also dependent on which of the blood cells are affected. Lymphocytic leukemia is when the lymphoid cells are attacked and this affects your immune system’s lymphatic tissue. Myelogenous leukemia affects myeloid cells. This type of cell is responsible for white blood cells, red blood cells, and the cells that produce platelets.
There are a few reasons that someone could get leukemia, most notably that these reasons are not completely responsible for someone contracting blood cancer. Sometimes people who are undergoing chemotherapy for other cancers are exposed to a bunch of radiation and that radiation can damage the DNA of cells in other parts of their body. This makes people who have cancer once, susceptible to getting it in a different part of the body again. Other risk factors include your genetic history; especially if you know that this cancer runs in your family. Our environment also plays a huge role in if we are exposed to carcinogens in chemicals or from cigarette smoke.
Lymphoma is described as the cancer that affects the lymphatic system, or the body’s defense against germs. The lymphatic system is comprised of lymph nodes, the spleen, thymus gland and also bone marrow. The two most talked about types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s. Symptoms of lymphoma can be; fatigues, fever, selling, sweating at night, weight loss and breathing issues. Unfortunately for males, they are more likely than women to develop this cancer. Also, if you have had an incurrence of the Epstein-Barr virus or an H. pylori infection you are at an increased risk of developing lymphoma. Treatment options are similar to that of leukemia. Chemotherapy and radiation are almost always recommended, as well as getting a bone marrow transplant to promote the growth of healthy blood cells.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that develops in plasma cells. Plasma cells make antibodies to fight germs. Myeloma is when these cells are not able to perform their functions. Symptoms of multiple myeloma include loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, thirst, and bone pain. Myeloma starts when there is damaged DNA that replicates in a different code. People who have MGUS, or M proteins, are susceptible to getting myeloma. Males are most likely to get myeloma, as are people with a family history of it.
What are the Symptoms?
There are many symptoms that can be listed as potential warning signs. Some symptoms include nausea, fever, chills, headaches, joint pain, weight loss, weakness, fatigue, frequent infections, itchy skin, and weight loss.
What are the Treatment Options?
There are a few different treatment options available to treat blood cancer, and it is important to remember that every situation is different, and each case is unique and will require its own medical attention and consideration. One option that some people choose is radiation. Radiation causes the malignant cancer cells to die, but the problem with that is that there isn’t a great way to target malignant cells without destroying healthy cells. This is potentially why some people get sicker during radiation, and the radiation can also cause different cancers to develop. For blood cancer, some people opt to get a stem cell transplant. This can be incredibly costly, but it is incredibly helpful in making the body be able to make healthy cells. Around 50,00 of stem cell transplants are performed in the United States each year.
Tips for People with Cancer on Coping
- Attend all of your doctor’s appointments and do your own personal research
- Have a clean diet and try to exercise if you are able to
- Continue to surround yourself around people who are loving, uplifting, and supporting
- Meditation and practicing breathing exercising
- Practice mindfulness and focus on the things that you can control
- Seek professional help in the form of therapy
- This could be a time to reconnect with religion or spiritual guidance
- Seek out a support group in person or online of people going through the same thing
Famous People Who Have Had Blood Cancer
Unfortunately cancer does not discriminate who gets the disease, and it is based upon environment and genetics. The following are a list of famous people who have had or have blood cancers:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – Basketball player
- Jill Clayburgh – Actress
- Ethan Zohn – Survivor Contestant
- Nora Ephron – Movie Producer of “You’ve Got Mail” and “Sleepless in Seattle” and “When Harry Met Sally”
- Mary Travers – Peter Paul and Mary
- Evan Handler – Harry from “Sex and the City”
- Etta James – Signer
- Spiro Agnew – Vice President under Nixon
Are you a survivor of one of the blood cancers that is mentioned above? Do you know someone who has had one of the cancers? Are you a hematologist oncologist? Did you find this article to raise awareness for the different types of blood cancer? Comment below!