Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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Blood cancers

Blood cancers, or hematologic cancers, affect the production and function of blood cells. Most of these cancers start in the bone marrow where blood is produced.

Types of blood cancers

Common types of blood cancer include:

  • Leukemia: Cancer that originates in blood-forming tissue.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: Cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections.
  • Hodgkin lymphoma: Cancer that develops in the lymphatic system from cells called lymphocytes. Hodgkin lymphoma is marked by the presence of an abnormal lymphocyte called the Reed-Sternberg cell (or B lymphocyte).
  • Multiple myeloma: Cancer that begins in the blood's plasma cells, a type of white blood cell that is made in the bone marrow.

Blood cancer symptoms

Some common blood cancer symptoms include:

  • Fever, chills
  • Persistent fatigue, weakness
  • Loss of appetite, nausea
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Night sweats
  • Bone/joint pain
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Frequent infections
  • Itchy skin or skin rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin

Blood cancer treatment & therapy options

Treatment for blood cancer depends on the type of cancer, your age, how fast the cancer is progressing, where the cancer has spread and other factors. Some common blood cancer treatments include:

  • Stem cell transplantation: A stem cell transplant infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into the body. Stem cells can be collected from the bone marrow, circulating (peripheral) blood and umbilical cord blood.
  • Chemotherapy: Chemotherapy is the use of anticancer drugs designed to interfere with and halt the growth of cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy for blood cancer sometimes consists of giving several drugs together in a set regimen. It may also be given before a stem cell transplant.
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy may be used to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort. It may also be given before a stem cell transplant.

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