Warning Signs of Leukemia and Other Blood Cancers
Cancers are a mix of fluid and different kinds of cells and proteins. Red blood cells carry oxygen, and white blood cells fight disease. Tiny cell fragments called platelets help your blood clot to patch up a cut. Some types of cancer affect the parts of your body that make these things, including leukemia, lymphomas, and myelomas.
Leukemia Warning Symptoms
Types of Blood Cancers
Your body has a network called the lymphatic system, which helps you fight off infection. It includes organs all over your body called lymph nodes, that filter out bacteria and viruses, as well as white blood cells called lymphocytes. Cancers that attack the lymphatic system are known as lymphomas.They’re the most common kind of blood cancer. Because your lymphatic system runs throughout your body, this type can start almost anywhere.
There are two kinds, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s. Your body makes lymphocytes that don’t work the way they should, and they clump together to form tumors. They can crowd out healthy white blood cells so they can’t help you fight off disease.
The difference between the two types of lymphoma is in the lymphocyte that’s involved. With Hodgkin’s lymphoma, your body makes a kind called Reed-Sternberg cells. About 12% of people who have lymphoma have this type, which is named for the doctor who identified it in 1832. It’s one of the most curable forms of cancer.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma does not contain Reed-Sternberg cells. This is the most common form of lymphoma as more than 30 types of cancer fall into this category. Growth rates will vary; some types grow slowly, while others grow very fast and quickly spread to other parts of your body.
This type of blood cancer can make you feel like you have the flu. You might have a fever, feel weak or sweaty, and have aches in your joints. You also might have:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bleeding or swollen gums
Other symptoms can include getting infections often, bruising easily, and anemia, which is when your body doesn’t make enough red blood cells.
This type of blood cancer affects white blood cells called plasma cells. They make proteins called antibodies that attack bacteria and viruses in your body. If you have myeloma, your body turns out lots of problem plasma cells that make a protein that doesn’t help fight infections. These proteins can build up in your bone marrow and damage your kidneys, or in your bones and make them weak.
You may not notice symptoms early on, but the first sign is typically bone pain, usually in your back or ribs. Other symptoms may include excessive thirst, constipation excessive urination, and you get frequent infections. You also have numb hands and feet.
If your doctor thinks you might have myeloma, you’ll have blood tests to check for high levels of certain proteins, a bone marrow biopsy to look for cancer cells, and scans to see if your bones are thin or fractured.
Treatments include, radiation, chemotherapy, and stem cell transplants.
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