Every 3 minutes someone is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
Blood cancers are very complex. There are many different types and subtypes of blood cancer, and every patient and condition is unique.
Blood cancers do, however, share many commonalities. Blood cancers affect the production and function of your blood cells and often start in your bone marrow where blood is produced.
In most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process—where stems cells in your bone marrow mature and create red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets—is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. These abnormal blood cells, or cancerous cells, prevent your blood from performing many of its important functions, like fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding. Learn more about blood and its functions.
The Main Types of Blood Cancer
The main types of blood cancer are myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of blood disorders in which the bone marrow does not produce enough healthy blood cells. “The blood marrow is not functioning normally in these patients. It really is a pre-leukemia state,” says Ruthee Lu Bayer, MD, director of stem cell transplantation at Northwell Health.
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that’s found in the blood and bone marrow. It’s caused by rapid production of abnormal white blood cells. “The abnormal cells will crowd out the bone marrow and affect the production of healthy cells,” says Dr. Bayer.
These abnormal white blood cells can’t fight infection like healthy white blood cells do, and the high number of these abnormal cells make it difficult for the bone marrow to produce red blood cells and platelets. Red blood cells are crucial for dispersing oxygen and nutrients throughout the body, and platelets help the blood clot when you’re injured.
Lymphoma is a type of blood cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluids from your body and produces immune cells.
In lymphoma, abnormal lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) divide rapidly, but instead of just circulating throughout the blood, they begin to collect in your lymph nodes and other tissues.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of the plasma cell, which is a type of white blood cell. “Normally that white blood cell is making antibodies that help us to fight off infection,” says Dr. Bayer. Someone with multiple myeloma, however, produces abnormal plasma cells that divide rapidly and crowd out the bone marrow, she says.
“[The abnormal plasma cells] make abnormal antibodies which will ultimately affect the immune system and patients can have recurrent infections,” says Dr. Bayer.
Treatment for Different Blood Cancer Types
Treatment for blood cancer depends on many factors, including the type of cancer you have, your age, how fast the cancer is progressing, and where the cancer has spread. To get the best treatment outcome, patients should be evaluated by a hematologist-oncologist that specializes in their specific condition. Here are important questions to ask your doctor about blood cancer treatment.
“Thirty years ago there were far less patients ultimately achieving the cure and long-term survival with various types of blood cancer,” says Dr. Bayer. “Now with newer treatments and better treatments, patients are surviving and living normal lives.”
Ruthee-lu Bayer, MD is the director of stem cell transplantation at Monter Cancer Center, Northwell Health.
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Approximately every three minutes,
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one person in the United States
is diagnosed with a blood cancer.
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Blood cancer is a disease that affects
the blood cells and the platelets.
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Some of the main types of blood
cancer are leukemias, lymphomas,
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multiple myeloma, and
00:00:33,100 --> 00:00:36,920
Myelodysplastic syndrome is a group of
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blood disorders that
affect the bone marrow.
00:00:41,490 --> 00:00:47,595
The bone marrow is not functioning
normally in these patients and
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it really is a pre-leukemia state.
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In acute leukemias,
abnormal cells are growing very rapidly.
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And what happens is the abnormal cells
will crowd out the bone marrow and
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will then affect the production
of the healthy cells.
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Lymphoma is a disease of the lymphoid
cell and the lymph nodes.
00:01:14,110 --> 00:01:20,100
The abnormal lymphocyte is
multiplying rapidly but
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they may or
may not be circulating in the blood.
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They may be forming masses or
abnormalities in the lymph nodes.
00:01:29,090 --> 00:01:33,640
Multiple myeloma is a disorder
of the plasma cell.
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That's a type of white blood cell.
00:01:35,910 --> 00:01:36,800
00:01:36,800 --> 00:01:43,180
that white blood cell is making antibodies
that help us to fight off infection.
00:01:43,180 --> 00:01:49,150
In someone with multiple myeloma,
the plasma cell is dividing more rapidly.
00:01:49,150 --> 00:01:53,670
Those abnormal plasma cells
will crowd out the bone marrow
00:01:54,900 --> 00:01:57,870
and make abnormal antibodies.
00:01:57,870 --> 00:02:01,850
Which then ultimately can
affect the immune system and
00:02:01,850 --> 00:02:05,030
patients can have recurrent infections.
00:02:05,030 --> 00:02:11,830
There are many different treatments for
blood cancers including radiation,
00:02:11,830 --> 00:02:17,890
chemotherapy, immunotherapy, cell therapy.
00:02:17,890 --> 00:02:25,508
30 years ago, there were far less patients
ultimately achieving the cure and
00:02:25,508 --> 00:02:31,860
long-term survival with various
types of blood cancers.
00:02:31,860 --> 00:02:37,266
Now, with newer treatments and
00:02:37,266 --> 00:02:42,919
patients are surviving and
they are living normal lives.
00:02:42,919 --> 00:02:47,720
Blood Cancers. American Society of Hematology. (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at http://www.hematology.org/Patients/Cancers)
Clinical manifestations, pathologic features, and diagnosis of acute promyelocytic leukemia in adults. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020. (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-pathologic-features-and-diagnosis-of-acute-promyelocytic-leukemia-in-adults)
Leukemia. Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at https://www.cancer.gov/types/leukemia)
Clinical presentation and diagnosis of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020 (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-presentation-and-diagnosis-of-non-hodgkin-lymphoma)
Lymphoma. Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at https://www.cancer.gov/types/lymphoma)
Clinical features, laboratory manifestations, and diagnosis of multiple myeloma. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020 (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-features-laboratory-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-multiple-myeloma)
Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of myelodysplastic syndromes. Waltham, MA: UpToDate, 2020 (Accessed on February 15, 2021 at https://www.uptodate.com/contents/clinical-manifestations-and-diagnosis-of-the-myelodysplastic-syndromes)