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Different Types of Blood Cancers - FAQs

Multiple myeloma

Q. What is Leukaemia?

Ans. Leukaemia is a type of cancer that happens when cells in the bone marrow grow abnormally and out of control. These cells can spread to other parts of your body.

This is actually a group of different cancers of the blood cells. Leukaemia can be acute or chronic, and people with chronic leukaemia may not notice any symptoms before the condition is diagnosed with a blood test. Acute leukaemia is more likely to cause symptoms.

Symptoms of all forms of leukaemia are related to the production of abnormal blood cells and replacement of the bone marrow by the cancerous cells.

Q. How is leukaemia diagnosed?

Ans. Based on the suspect of having signs and symptoms related to leukaemia, a doctor will enquire about recent past overall health status and confirm with physical condition like swollen lymph nodes, enlarged spleen or liver.

Blood test which shows high level of white blood cells and low levels of other types of blood cells also adds on the possibility of cancer. Further, bone marrow biopsy provides key information about the type of leukaemia to decide right treatment.

Q. What are the causes of developing leukaemia?

Ans. The exact cause of leukaemia is not known, but both genetics and environmental factors are believed to play a role. Leukaemia cells have acquired DNA mutations that allow them to grow abnormally and lose functions of typical white blood cells. Certain factors, such as exposure to radiation, are known to increase the risk of developing leukaemia.

Q. Explain different types of leukaemia ?

Ans. There are four main types of leukaemia. The acute types can get worse quickly and need to be treated right away. The chronic types get worse slowly and may not need to be treated until you have symptoms.

1. Acute Lymphoblastic (ALL),
2. Acute Myelogenous (AML),
3. Chronic Lymphocytic (CLL), and
4. Chronic Myelogenous (CML)

Q. How is leukaemia treated?

Ans. Treatment of any disease relies on many factors. This is true in case of leukaemia also. Patient’s overall health, age, type and stage of leukaemia are some of the deciding factors to plan an effective treatment.

In case of acute leukaemia, quick treatment is advised to stop rapid growth of leukaemia cells. Whereas chronic lymphocytic leukaemia may not need to be treated until clear symptoms are reflected. But chronic myelogenous leukaemia needs to be addressed at once.

Chemotherapy is the main treatment for most types of leukaemia. Radiation is another way to treat leukaemia.

Stem cells can rebuild supply of normal blood cells and boost immune system. Targeted therapy, in which special medicines are used to stop cancer cells from multiplying.

Q. What is Lymphoma?

Ans. Lymphoma is a cancer that begins in infection-fighting cells of the immune system, called lymphocytes. These cells are in the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and other parts of the body. When a person has lymphoma, lymphocytes change and grow out of control.

Q. How do you test for lymphoma?

Ans. A sample of the blood is examined in a lab to see if anything in the blood indicates the possibility of cancer. Imaging tests used to diagnose Hodgkin's lymphoma include X-ray, computerized tomography (CT) scan and positron emission tomography (PET).

Q. What are the main categories of Lymphoma?

Ans. Every type of lymphoma grows at a different rate and responds differently to treatment. There are two main types of lymphoma:

1) Non-Hodgkin— most common type of lymphoma.
2) Hodgkin

Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma each affect a different kind of lymphocyte. Even though lymphoma is cancer, it is very treatable.

Q. What is a stem cell transplant for lymphoma?

Ans. After entering the bloodstream, the stem cells travel to the bone marrow and begin to produce healthy new blood cells in a process known as engraftment.

Q. What are the diseases which can be treated by a stem cell transplant?

Ans. Blood related diseases and cancer can be treated with stem cell transplant. Leukaemia, multiple myeloma and lymphoma are some main names of blood cancer.

Q. Can stem cells transplant cure blood cancer?

Ans. Stem cells transplant has been emerged as most successful treatment to cure certain types of cancer. This treatment is beneficial in case of leukaemia and lymphomas conditions (both are blood cancers).

Q. What types of cancer are treated with BMT and PBSCT?

Ans. BMT and PBSCT are most commonly used in the treatment of leukaemia and lymphoma. They are most effective when the leukaemia or lymphoma is in remission (the signs and symptoms of cancer have disappeared).

BMT and PBSCT are also used to treat other cancers such as neuroblastoma (cancer that arises in immature nerve cells and affects mostly infants and children) and multiple myeloma.

Without healthy bone marrow, the patient is no longer able to make the blood cells needed to carry oxygen, fight infection, and prevent bleeding. BMT and PBSCT replace stem cells destroyed by treatment. The healthy, transplanted stem cells can restore the bone marrow’s ability to produce the blood cells the patient needs.

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