Hematologists at Oncology San Antonio treat a variety of blood disorders, including both benign and malignant conditions.
Our blood has three major types of cells:
- Red cells which have hemoglobin, the oxygen carrier as their major component.
- White cells, which are mostly involved in providing us the power to fight off infections and
- Platelets which are the smaller cells, which play a major role in initiating the process of coagulation to help us stop bleeding.
Besides the liquid part of the blood i.e. plasma has multiple different proteins and molecules involved in multiple different functions.
There are a number of conditions that can perturb the balance between these elements resulting in disease states some of which are benign and others are malignant. Considering that the cellular elements are formed in our bone marrow, the changes in our blood cells can sometimes reflect problems with bone marrow as well.
Cancerous Blood Disorders
Cancer occurs when there is uncontrolled proliferation/ multiplication of a particular type of cell, which goes unchecked by the body’s normal mechanisms. The cancerous cell continues to multiply at the cost of other normal cells and thus the normal functioning suffers.
- Leukemia and Myelodysplastic syndrome
- Multiple myeloma/ Plasma cell disorders
- Myeloproliferative disorders.
is a cancer that targets plasma cells, the white blood cells that produce antibodies to fight infection and disease. Myeloma blocks production of antibodies, weakening the immune system and leaving the body susceptible to infection.
Leukemia is a cancer of white cells. Acute leukemia is rapidly progressive and a serious condition that mostly needs emergent treatment. Chronic leukemia, on the other hand, is not as rapidly progressive and they are treated differently.
Leukemia impairs the bone marrow’s ability to produce red blood cells, normal white cells and platelets.
Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS)
MDS is considered a pre-leukemia. It causes similar symptoms with fatigue resulting from anemia, increased infections and increased risk of bleeding/ bruising.
Lymphoma is another type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system – (lymph nodes are all over our body, the glands under the jaw we develop with sore throat). There are over 100 different types of lymphomas, but broadly they are classified as Hodgkin and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lymphoma tends to cause anemia, weaken the immune system and cause many other symptoms such as unexplained fever, night sweats or unexplained weight loss.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are a subtype of white cells which reside in bone marrow. They normally produce different types of antibodies which help fight infections. When a plasma cell becomes cancerous, it can take over the bone marrow and cause anemia, renal failure, weak bones and fractures as well as high calcium levels. Since normal antibody production suffers, it also predisposes to infections. Over the last few years, the treatment for this condition has seen huge progress.
It is important to note that the symptoms listed below can be caused by conditions other than cancers of the blood or central nervous system. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis of cancer.
Cancers of the blood
- Weakness and fatigue
- Getting numerous infections
- Night sweats
- Weight loss
- Bone pain
- Swollen or painful belly
- Bruising or bleeding easily