September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. What are the common types of blood cancer? What are the common treatments? Learn more about the three most common types of blood cancer – leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma – and treatment options.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. With leukemia, cancerous blood cells form and harm the healthy blood cells in your bone marrow. The cancerous cells also prevent new, healthy blood cells from forming.
A leukemia diagnosis can be acute or chronic; acute means it is a fast-growing cancer and chronic means it is slow-growing and gradually gets worse over time. The most common types of leukemia are acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia, chronic lymphocytic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia.
Lymphoma begins in the cells of the lymph system, which is a part of the immune system that helps your body fight infection and disease. Lymph tissue is found throughout the body and travels through blood vessels.
Common types of lymphoma include Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Hodgkin lymphoma is one of the most treatable forms of cancer and occurs when a change in a white blood cell, called a lymphocyte, causes it to become a cancerous lymphoma cell. The lymphoma cells form masses and gather in parts of the body. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma cells form masses and gather in the lymph nodes, and can be fast-growing or slow-growing.
Myeloma is a type of cancer that begins in the bone marrow, and is a cancer of the plasma cells, which are a type of white blood cells that help blood clot. When myeloma is found in the marrow of multiple bones in your body, it is called multiple myeloma. More than 90 percent of myeloma patients are diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Treatment for blood cancer
The best blood cancer treatment for you will be determined by your specific type of cancer, overall health, and the rate of progression of your disease. It is important to let your care team know when you experience new symptoms or side effects throughout your treatment.
“We are excited about the advancements for the treatment of many types of blood cancers, including the identification of new molecular targeted therapies in recent years,” said Aravind Ramakrishnan, MD, medical oncologist/hematologist the Sarah Cannon Blood Cancer Center at St. David’s South Austin Medical Center. “Advances in immunotherapy treatments, including CAR T-cell therapy, have demonstrated promising responses, and blood and marrow transplants have expanded to broader populations with multiple different stem cell sources.”
Common treatments for blood cancers include:
- Watchful waiting
- Radiation therapy
- Stem cell transplantation
- Blood transfusion
- Clinical trials
If you have questions about blood cancer, you can call askSARAH to speak to a nurse.