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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Blood cancers and treatments

Blood cancers refer to a group of cancers where the cancerous cells derive from the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.These cancers include the Leukaemias & pre-leukaemias (now Known as Myelodysplastic syndrome),Myelomas (and other plasma cell cancers)and the Lymphomas.Within each category,these are many sub-types.Each sub-type may have different characteristics and of course,may have different response to treatment.Some are ultra-aggressive and while other may have a very high  chance of a cure.  

Signs and symptoms 

          While the various cancers are very different in the causes and prognosis,very often,the presenting symptoms can be very similar, Symptoms of anaemia are common as many of these blood cancers present with a low red blood cell count (anaemia) as a result of a damaged marrow These symptoms may include tiredness,poor stamina,breathlessness,giddiness and poor appetite.Most patients are pale and often,this pallor can be noticed by friends or family members.In addition to red cell problem,patients with blood cancers may have frequent infections.witch may lead to recurrent fevers of fevers that do not resolve.Sometimes,enlarged Lymph nodes may present as lumps felt or enlarged spleens may present  as a heaviness in the abdomen.Bleeding problems are common with Leukaemias and will manifest as easy bruisability,gum bleeding or nose bleeding.

Who are at Risk? 

         While there ae many possible causes for blood cancers,very often it is very different to able to positively one in a particular patient.HIV infection may be the only exception,It is well Known that many patients with HIV develop lymphomas in the course of their illness,This is due to the dysfunctional immune system that eventually lead to the creation of an malignant clone of lymphocytes.Other viruses such as Epstein barr virus had also been are well Known factors that may lead to leukaemia formation.


        diagnosis can easily be made with clinical examination  as the symptoms and signs are often quite clear.However,confirmation must still be made from blood tests,bone marrow examination,radiological scans and a lymph node biopsy.with advances in medicine,high-tech investigations such as chromosome analysis (cytogenetic analysis ), flow cytometry,gene mutations and Positron Emission Tomography (PET scan ) nad Helped to make improve immensely on prognosis analysis (the ability to predict response & outcome).

Treatment Methods

        Treatment is usually in the form of chemotherapy for most blood cancers and the cure rate had improve tremendously since the early days of chemotherapy in the 1960-1970s.with the introduction of immunotherapy such as monoclonal antibodies like anti-CD20,cure rates for lymphomas had made a  quantum leap forward.Targeted therapy had also made certain Leukaemias like Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia a lot of less dangerous.Long-term surviaval in  Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia is now easily achieved with using targeted therapy like Imatinib and Dasatinib,Stem cell Transplant is another treatment modality that had truly made a quantum improvement in the cure rate of many blood cancers,While traditionally used mainly in Leukaemias,Stem cell Transplant can be also be used in Lymphomas and Myelomas,leading to improved cure rates and long-term survival.
        all in all,the outlook for blood cancers for blood cancers is certainly a lot better in the last 10 years and with the development of newer high-tech investigation and better medication in the near future,the outlook may be even brighter...............