Are all Blood Disorders Cancer?
Cancer is a term given to a group of related diseases. It is when abnormal body cells begin to divide in an uncontrolled manner without stopping and invade into surrounding tissues.
Blood cancers, or hematologic cancers, affect the production and function of blood cells. Most of these cancers start in the bone marrow where blood is produced.
Not all blood disorders are cancer but all blood cancers are blood disorders
Common types of blood cancers include:
- Lymphomas (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma)
- Multiple myelomas
Leukemia is a type of blood cancer in which malignant white blood cells multiply inside the bone marrow. Leukemia may be either acute or chronic. There are four main types of leukemia
- Acute myeloid leukemia
- Chronic myeloid leukemia
- Acute lymphocytic leukemia
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Lymphoma is a malignancy of the blood lymphatic system. With lymphoma, the white blood cells structure is altered, and they begin to continuously replicate, similar to cancer cells, growing out of control.
Hodgkin lymphoma (also known as Hodgkin’s disease) is cancer that develops from cells in the lymphatic system (part of the body’s immune system) called lymphocytes. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections. All other lymphomas are classified as non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL)
Multiple myelomas (also called Kahler disease, bone marrow cancer or plasma cell myeloma) is a rare type of cancer that affects the blood’s plasma cells. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cells (B lymphocytes) produced in the bone marrow. They help synthesize antibodies (e.g. M-proteins or monoclonal proteins) which fight foreign bodies like virus and infections.
As cancerous plasma cells proliferate in the bone marrow, other blood cell types are severely impaired. This leads to a wide range of symptoms, such as anemia, infection, anemia, problems with blood clotting and bruising. The cancer cells can also cause the bones to dissolve at a faster rate than they able to regenerate. This can cause damaged and weakened bones, causing severe pain and unexplained bone fractures usually in the spine.
Clinical symptoms of blood cancers are
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone/joint pain
- Night Sweats.
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, armpit, groin
- Frequent or recurrent skin infections
Blood Cell Disorders: Symptoms, Types, and Causes
A blood cell disorders also called hematologic disorders are conditions that can affect the quantity as the well physiologic functions of the cells in the blood (red blood cell, white blood cells, platelet) or circulating proteins in the blood clotting system or immunological system
Symptoms of Blood Disorder
Blood disorders can present with various symptoms in almost any area of the body and will vary depending on the type of blood cell affected.
While there are many different types, below are some of the more commonly seen red blood cell disorders.
- Hemolytic disease of the newborn
- Nutritional anemias (Iron deficiency anemia and folate deficiency)
- Red cell enzyme deficiencies (
- Red cell membrane disorders (e.g. hereditary spherocytosis)
- Hemoglobinopathies (e.g. sickle cell disease and thalassemia)
Anemia is a red blood disorder in which the red cells cannot adequately provide the body with oxygen and nutrients. This is as a result of the body not producing enough red blood cells or when the hemoglobin present in the red cells is not properly functioning.
The common causes of anemia are a chronic disease, poor nutrition, intestinal diseases, and infections. People with one or more of the following chronic conditions are also at a greater risk for developing anemia
- Chronic liver disease
- Chronic kidney disease
- Inflammatory bowel disease (Ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
- Autoimmune disorders such as Systemic lupus, rheumatoid arthritis.
Sickle Cell Disease
Sickle cell anemia is the most common type of inherited blood disorders. It affects mostly Blacks and African-American descents.
A healthy red blood cells membrane is fluid in shape so they can easily pass through the small blood vessels in the body. In people with sickle cell, their red blood cells are shaped like a half moon (or a sickle), so they have difficulty flowing into the small blood vessels and often get blocked.
Common symptoms of red blood cell disorders are:
- Shortness of breath.
- Lack of energy
- Decreased exercise intolerance
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Pale skin, lips, and hands
- Fast or irregular heartbeat
- Cold hands or feet
White Blood Cell Disorders
Diseases of the white blood cells affect the ability of the immune system to fight off infection. Lymphoma, leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are all pathologies involving the white blood cell
Symptoms of white blood cell disorders are:
- Chronic and recurrent infections
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Itchy skin or skin rash
- Persistent fatigue, weakness
The platelets play a primary role in both blood coagulation and wound healing. Hence, any defects in platelets can lead to various bleeding disorders. Platelet disorders include thrombocytosis, thrombocytopenia, and platelet dysfunction.
Thrombocytosis or primary thrombocythemia is a chronic disease myeloproliferative neoplasm in which there is an increase in the total number of blood platelets (thrombocytes) in the blood.
Thrombocytopenia refers to decreased platelet count because of failed platelet production, increased sequestration of platelets in the spleen, dilution of platelets and combination of these mechanisms.
Symptoms of platelet disorders are
- Skin that bruises easily
- Bleeding from the gums or unexplained nosebleeds
- Injuries, cuts or sores that takes time to heal
- Blood that doesn’t clot after an injury or a minor cut
Hematologist Near Me
A hematologist is a medical professional who specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases and disorders of the blood. They are also trained to examine and diagnose disease of bone marrow, vascular and immune system. They will recommend and order tests to determine the extent of your illness and diagnose the condition.
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H, A., S, A., M, A., A, A., & F, A. (2016). Effects of Age and Sex on Sickle Cell Disease Avascular Necrosis. Journal Of Hematology And Blood Disorders, 2(1). doi: 10.15744/2455-7641.2.104
Ludwig, H., & Strasser, K. (2001). Symptomatology of anemia. Seminars In Oncology, 28(2F), 7-14. doi: 10.1053/sonc.2001.25391
Nathan, D. (2010). A Life-Long Quest to Understand and Treat Genetic Blood Disorders. Cell, 143(1), 17-20. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.09.015