Torrance Memorial Lymphoma and Leukemia Program
While most forms of cancer affect your body’s bones and tissues,
it’s also possible to have cancer that affects your blood. These
cancers typically begin in the bone marrow, where blood is produced, and
affect the production and function of blood cells.
Types of Blood Cancers
There are three categories of blood cancers, with subtypes for each. These include:
Leukemia: Found in the blood and bone marrow, leukemia is caused by the rapid production
of abnormal white blood cells, which interfere with the ability of the
bone marrow to produce other types of blood cells. There are four sub-types
of leukemia, which are:
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
Lymphoma: Accounting for about half of blood cancers diagnosed each year, this type
of cancer affects the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluids from
your body and produces immune cells. Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s
lymphoma are two forms of the disease.
Myeloma: Myeloma is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells, inhibiting
antibody production and weakening the immune system.
Symptoms of Blood Cancers
Some common blood cancer symptoms include:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Appetite loss
- Bone/joint pain
- Fatigue and weakness
- Fever, chills
- Frequent infections
- Itchy skin, rashes
- Night sweats
- Shortness of Breath
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin
- Unexplained weight loss
Blood Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment
Blood cancers present a variety of vague symptoms so diagnosis sometimes
happens incidentally. Diagnostic techniques include:
- A physical exam: Looking for swollen lymph glands, or evidence that your
liver or spleen are swollen
- Blood test: Can detect abnormalities in blood cell counts
- Urine test: To detect high levels of a certain type of protein associated
with blood cancers
Bone marrow biopsy: Which can be done through a bone marrow aspiration or a bone needle biopsy
Treatment for will depend on a variety of factors, including the type of
cancer you have, how aggressive it is, your age and health status, and
so on. Treatments may include:
- Stem cell transplant: Blood-forming stem cells, collected from the bone
marrow or bloodstream, are introduced to encourage growth of healthy blood
cells. Torrance Memorial refers out to partnered academic centers in our area.
Chemotherapy: Medications interrupt and halt the growth of cancer cells.
Radiation: Radiation therapy is sometimes given prior to a stem cell transplant,
to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort.
For More Information
For additional information about the lymphoma and leukemia cancer program
at Torrance Memorial, call our Nurse Navigator at 310-517-7077.
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