Blood Cancer Awareness Month: Diagnosis and Treatment

Blood cancers can be rooted in the bone marrow (where blood is produced), in the blood, or in the lymph nodes. There are three types of blood cells: Red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. Most blood cancers occur when normal blood cell development is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal blood cell type (cancerous cells).

As these diseased blood cells proliferate, they cause life-threatening damage to the immune and circulatory systems and prevent your blood from performing vital functions like fighting infections or preventing serious bleeding.

Leukemia, lymphoma and other types of blood cancers

There are three main types of blood cancers:

  • Leukemia – When abnormal white blood cells in the blood and bone marrow rapidly produce, they are unable to fight infection. The excessive number of abnormal white blood cells also interferes with the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells and platelets.
  • Lymphoma – Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. When abnormal lymphocytes become lymphoma cells, they multiply and collect in the lymph nodes and tissues, damaging the immune system. Hodgkin lymphoma generally starts in blood and bone marrow. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma typically begins in lymph node and lymphatic tissue.
  • Myeloma – Myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells, which prevents the healthy production of antibodies, weakening the immune system and making it susceptible to infection.

Blood cancer warning signs

Blood cancers can manifest in different ways. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue, weakness or breathlessness
  • Bruising or bleeding easily
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (may indicate lymphoma)
  • Swollen stomach or abdominal discomfort
  • Frequent and repeated infections
  • Fever or night sweats
  • Pain in bones or joints, especially the ribs or back (may indicate myeloma)

Hematology is specialized care for blood cancer

Hematology is the diagnosis and treatment of blood and bone marrow diseases. At the START Center for Cancer Care, we offer hope to people facing blood cancer in San Antonio and throughout South Texas, with complete, leading edge hematology care for blood diseases and disorders.

START also operates one of the world’s largest non-academic-institution Phase I clinical trials, which has provided countless people access to innovative treatments, and brought 19 new anti-cancer drugs to market.

If you are experiencing symptoms of blood cancer, contact the compassionate, experienced physicians at START at 210-745-6841.