Blood cancer, also known as hematologic cancer, is an umbrella term for different types of cancer that affects the production and function of blood cells. In healthy individuals, blood cells are produced in the bone marrow, which is a spongy tissue located in the center of bones. Blood cancer occurs when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably in the bone marrow, causing a disruption in the normal production and function of blood cells.
There are three main types of blood cells: red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red blood cells are responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells are important for fighting infections, and platelets help with blood clotting. Blood cancers can affect any of these types of blood cells.
The different types of blood cancer include:
- Leukemia: This is a cancer of the white blood cells, which affects their ability to fight infections. Leukemia can be acute or chronic, depending on the speed at which the cancer develops.
- Lymphoma: This is a cancer of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for fighting infections and filtering toxins from the body. Lymphoma can be Hodgkin’s or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, depending on the type of cell affected.
- Multiple myeloma: This is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cell that produce antibodies. Multiple myeloma affects the body’s ability to produce healthy antibodies.
- Myelodysplastic syndromes: This is a group of disorders that affect the bone marrow’s ability to produce healthy blood cells. It can lead to a shortage of one or more types of blood cells.
- Myeloproliferative neoplasms: This is a group of disorders that cause an overproduction of blood cells in the bone marrow, leading to an imbalance in the different types of blood cells.
Treatment for blood cancer depends on the type and stage of the cancer, as well as the patient’s overall health. Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, bone marrow transplants, and targeted therapy.
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