Prathima Cancer Institute

Blood cancer, also known as hematologic cancer, is a type of cancer that affects the blood, bone marrow, lymph, and lymphatic system. It is characterized by the abnormal growth and division of blood cells, disrupting the normal functioning of the circulatory and immune systems. This category of cancer includes various types, such as leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, each with distinct characteristics and behaviors as said by best Oncologists in Warangal.

What is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancer is a broad term encompassing malignancies that originate in the blood-forming tissues, leading to the abnormal production and behavior of blood cells. Unlike solid tumors, which form masses, blood cancers involve the uncontrolled growth and accumulation of abnormal blood cells in the bloodstream, bone marrow, and lymphatic system.

Origin in Bone Marrow
The bone marrow, a spongy tissue found in the cavities of bones, is a crucial component of the body’s blood-forming system. It is responsible for producing red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. In blood cancer, the normal process of cell division and maturation becomes disrupted. Abnormal cells, often called leukemic or lymphomic cells, replace the healthy blood-forming cells in the bone marrow, leading to an overproduction of dysfunctional blood cells.

Interference with Normal Blood Cell Function
As blood cancer progresses, the abnormal cells interfere with the normal functioning of blood cells. Red blood cells, responsible for carrying oxygen to tissues, may be reduced in number, leading to anemia and fatigue. White blood cells, vital for the immune system, may become dysfunctional, impairing the body’s ability to fight infections. Additionally, the excessive production of abnormal cells can crowd out healthy cells in the bone marrow, further compromising the body’s ability to produce functional blood cells.

Types of Blood Cancer


Origin of Blood and Bone Marrow
Leukemia originates in the blood-forming tissues, particularly the bone marrow and sometimes the lymphatic system. It is characterized by the abnormal proliferation of immature white blood cells.

Abnormal White Blood Cell Overproduction
In leukemia, there is an uncontrolled production of abnormal white blood cells (leukemic cells) that do not function properly. These cells accumulate in the bone marrow and may spill into the bloodstream, interfering with normal blood cell production.

Impact on Red Blood Cells and Platelets
The overproduction of leukemic cells can crowd out healthy blood-forming cells, leading to a decrease in the production of red blood cells and platelets. This can result in anemia, fatigue, and an increased risk of bleeding.


I. Involvement of Lymphocytes
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma involves various types of lymphocytes, and the specific subtype determines the characteristics of the disease and the course of treatment.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
I. Development in the Lymphatic System
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma originates in the lymphatic system, which includes lymph nodes, spleen, and other lymphoid tissues. Abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, undergo uncontrolled growth, forming tumors in lymph nodes or other lymphoid tissues.

Hodgkin Lymphoma
I. Development in the Lymphatic System
Hodgkin lymphoma also originates in the lymphatic system, but it is characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cells, large abnormal cells that help distinguish Hodgkin lymphoma from other lymphomas.

II.Presence of Reed-Sternberg Cell
The Reed-Sternberg cell, along with other abnormal cells, forms in the lymph nodes and contributes to the development of Hodgkin lymphoma. This type of lymphoma is often marked by the orderly spread of the disease from one group of lymph nodes to another.


A. Beginning in Plasma Cells
Multiple myeloma originates in plasma cells, a type of white blood cell responsible for producing antibodies. In this condition, abnormal plasma cells accumulate in the bone marrow, forming tumors and interfering with normal blood cell production.

B. Stages of Multiple Myeloma
Multiple myeloma progresses through stages, ranging from smoldering myeloma (asymptomatic) to more advanced stages with symptoms such as bone pain, anemia, and kidney problems. Treatment approaches vary based on the stage and individual patient factors.

Less Common Forms

1) Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of disorders characterized by abnormal blood cell production in the bone marrow. This can lead to insufficient or dysfunctional blood cells, causing symptoms similar to leukemia.

2)Myeloproliferative Neoplasms (MPNs)
Myeloproliferative neoplasms involve the overproduction of mature blood cells, such as red blood cells, platelets, and white blood cells. Examples include polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia, and chronic myeloid leukemia.

Amyloidosis is a rare condition where abnormal proteins called amyloids accumulate in various organs, including the bone marrow. This can disrupt normal organ function and lead to a range of symptoms.

4)Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia
Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a type of lymphoma characterized by the overproduction of a specific type of antibody (immunoglobulin M) by lymphocytes, leading to symptoms such as fatigue, bleeding, and neurological issues.

5)Aplastic Anemia
Aplastic anemia is a disorder where the bone marrow fails to produce enough blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. While not a cancer in the traditional sense, it is included here due to its impact on blood cell production.

Blood Cancer Symptoms

It’s important to note these symptoms can be indicative of various medical conditions, and the presence of one or more symptoms does not necessarily confirm a blood cancer diagnosis.

1.Fever | Chills: Elevated body temperature, accompanied by chills, may be a symptom of blood cancer. Infections caused by compromised immune function can contribute to fever.

2.Persistent Fatigue | Weakness: Chronic fatigue and weakness are common symptoms of blood cancer, resulting from the reduced production of healthy blood cells and the presence of abnormal cells.

3.Loss of Appetite | Nausea: Blood cancer can cause a loss of appetite and nausea. This may be due to the impact of abnormal cells on the digestive system or the overall systemic effects of the disease.

4.Unexplained Weight Loss: Unexplained weight loss can occur as a result of the body’s increased energy demands in fighting the disease, coupled with a decreased appetite and nutrient absorption.

5.Night Sweats: Excessive sweating, especially at night, is a symptom often associated with blood cancers, particularly lymphomas.

6.Bone/Joint Pain: Blood cancer, especially myeloma and certain types of leukemia, can cause bone and joint pain. The abnormal accumulation of cells in the bone marrow may lead to pain and discomfort.

7.Abdominal Discomfort: Some blood cancers can cause abdominal discomfort or pain due to the enlargement of the spleen or liver, or the presence of tumors in the abdominal area.

8.Headaches: Persistent headaches can be a symptom of blood cancer, particularly when the disease affects the central nervous system or causes increased pressure within the skull.

9.Shortness of Breath: This may occur in blood cancers that impact the production of red blood cells, leading to anemia and reduced oxygen-carrying capacity.

10.Frequent Infections: Blood cancers, especially those affecting the immune system, can result in a weakened ability to fight infections, leading to an increased susceptibility to bacterial, viral, and fungal infections.

11.Itchy Skin or Skin Rash: This may be associated with blood cancers, particularly lymphomas. The presence of abnormal cells can trigger immune responses that manifest as skin changes.

12.Swollen Lymph Nodes: Enlarged lymph nodes, often painless, can be a visible sign of blood cancer. Swollen lymph nodes may be felt under the skin in areas such as the neck, armpits, or groin.

Early detection and diagnosis play a crucial role in the successful treatment of blood cancers. If individuals experience persistent or concerning symptoms, they should seek prompt medical attention for proper evaluation and diagnosis.

Causes and Risk Factors

Mutations in Genetic Material (DNA)
Blood cancers often result from mutations in the genetic material (DNA) of blood cells. These mutations can disrupt the normal regulation of cell growth and division, leading to the development of cancerous cells.

Risk Factors for Leukemia
i. Genetic Predisposition:
Some individuals may have a higher risk of developing leukemia due to genetic factors or a family history of the disease.
ii. Exposure to Radiation: High levels of radiation, whether from medical treatments, occupational exposure, or environmental sources, can increase the risk of leukemia.
iii. Chemical Exposure: Exposure to certain chemicals, such as benzene, may be associated with an elevated risk of developing leukemia.
iv. Previous Cancer Treatment: Individuals who have undergone certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, may be at an increased risk of developing leukemia as a secondary cancer.

Risk Factors for Hodgkin Lymphoma
i. Age: Hodgkin lymphoma most commonly occurs in young adults (15-35 years old) and older adults (over 55).
ii. Gender: Men are slightly more likely than women to develop Hodgkin lymphoma.
iii. Weakened Immune System: Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS or immunosuppressive medications, may increase the risk.
iv. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV): Infection with the Epstein-Barr virus is a risk factor, especially in developing countries.

Risk Factors for Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
i. Age: Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can occur at any age, but the risk increases with age, particularly in individuals over 60.
ii. Gender: Some subtypes of non-Hodgkin lymphoma are more common in men, while others are more prevalent in women.
iii. Immunosuppression: Conditions or medications that suppress the immune system, such as organ transplantation or certain autoimmune diseases, can increase the risk.
iv. Infections: Certain infections, such as human T-cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1) and the bacterium Helicobacter pylori, may contribute to the development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Risk Factors for Multiple Myeloma
i. Age: Multiple myeloma is more common in older adults, with the risk increasing with age.
ii. Gender: Men are slightly more likely than women to develop multiple myeloma.
iii. Race: African Americans are at a higher risk of developing multiple myeloma compared to other racial groups.
iv. Family History: Individuals with a family history of multiple myeloma may have an increased risk.
v. Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS): MGUS is a condition in which abnormal plasma cells produce a small amount of abnormal protein. It is considered a precursor to multiple myeloma and increases the risk of its development.

These causes and risk factors can help in identifying individuals who may be at a higher risk of developing blood cancers. Regular medical check-ups and early detection efforts are crucial in managing and treating blood cancers effectively.

How is Blood Cancer Diagnosed?

Physical Examination
During a physical examination, healthcare professionals may assess for signs and symptoms of blood cancer, such as swollen lymph nodes, palpable masses, or other abnormalities.

Health History Review
A comprehensive review of the patient’s health history helps healthcare providers understand potential risk factors, previous medical conditions, and familial predispositions to blood cancers.

Tests and Procedures

a. Lymph Node Biopsy: In cases where lymphoma is suspected, a biopsy of an enlarged lymph node is performed. This involves removing a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope to determine the presence of cancerous cells.
b. Bone Marrow Aspiration: A bone marrow aspiration involves extracting a small sample of bone marrow fluid and tissue from the pelvic bone or sternum. This procedure helps in evaluating the presence of abnormal cells and determining the type of blood cancer.

Imaging Scans
a. CT Scan (Computed Tomography): CT scans create detailed cross-sectional images of the body, allowing healthcare professionals to identify abnormalities, such as tumors or enlarged lymph nodes.
b. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging): MRI uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the body’s internal structures, providing information about the extent and location of tumors.
c. PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography): PET scans use a small amount of radioactive material to highlight areas of increased metabolic activity. This helps in identifying cancerous cells, especially in lymphomas.
d. X-ray: X-rays may be used to identify bone abnormalities, such as fractures or tumors. While not the primary diagnostic tool for blood cancers, they can contribute valuable information.
e. Ultrasound: Ultrasound imaging may be used to examine the abdomen or other areas for abnormalities, such as enlarged organs or fluid accumulation.

Blood Tests
a. Complete Blood Count (CBC): A CBC measures the quantity and quality of blood cells, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Abnormal cell counts may indicate the presence of blood cancer.
b. Blood Chemistry Tests: Blood chemistry tests assess the levels of various substances in the blood, providing information about organ function. Abnormalities may indicate the involvement of specific organs and systems.

These diagnostic tools allows healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose blood cancer, determine its type, and assess its stage. Once diagnosed, the healthcare team can develop an appropriate treatment plan to the specific characteristics of the blood cancer and the individual patient. Early and accurate diagnosis is crucial for effective management and improved outcomes in blood cancer cases.

VI. Blood Cancer Treatment

A. Stem Cell Transplantation
Stem cell transplantation, also known as hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, is a procedure in which damaged or diseased bone marrow is replaced with healthy stem cells. There are two main types:

Autologous Transplantation: The patient’s own stem cells are collected and then reintroduced after high-dose chemotherapy or radiation to restore normal blood cell production.
Allogeneic Transplantation: Stem cells are obtained from a donor, often a matched sibling or unrelated donor, and transplanted into the patient. This can be effective in treating certain blood cancers, but it comes with the risk of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), where the donor cells attack the recipient’s tissues.
B. Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy involves the use of drugs to kill or control the growth of cancer cells. These drugs can be administered orally or intravenously and circulate throughout the body to target cancer cells. Chemotherapy is a systemic treatment that can impact both cancerous and normal cells, leading to various side effects. It is often used in combination with other treatments.

C. Radiation Therapy
Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays or particles to target and destroy cancer cells. It can be delivered externally (external beam radiation) or internally (brachytherapy). Radiation therapy is often used to treat specific areas affected by blood cancer, such as lymph nodes or bone lesions.

Blood Cancer Survival Rates

Five-Year Relative Survival Rates
Leukemia: The five-year relative survival rate for leukemia varies depending on the specific type. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML) have different survival rates.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: The survival rate for non-Hodgkin lymphoma varies based on the subtype. Overall, advancements in treatments have improved survival rates.

Hodgkin Lymphoma: Hodgkin lymphoma generally has high survival rates, especially in cases diagnosed at an early stage. Advances in treatments have contributed to improved outcomes.

Myeloma: Survival rates for multiple myeloma have improved, but they can vary depending on factors such as the stage at diagnosis and response to treatment.

Limitations of Survival Rates: It’s important to note that survival rates provide an estimate of the percentage of people who survive a certain period after diagnosis. They do not predict individual outcomes, and advancements in treatments may lead to improvements in survival rates over time. Additionally, factors such as age, overall health, and response to treatment can significantly influence individual prognosis.

Ongoing Advances in Medicine: Ongoing research and advances in medical science continue to contribute to the development of new treatments and therapies for blood cancers. Targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and personalized medicine approaches are among the innovations that hold promise for improving outcomes and quality of life for individuals with blood cancer.

Regular follow-up care and support are essential for managing potential side effects and monitoring the response to treatment. Treatment decisions are often personalized based on the specific type and stage of blood cancer, as well as individual patient factors. Close collaboration between our healthcare professionals and patients is crucial in determining the most effective and suitable treatment approach as said by best Oncologists in Warangal.


Blood cancer treatment is continually shaped by ongoing medical advancements, instilling optimism for enhanced outcomes and improved patient well-being. Prathima Cancer Institute plays a pivotal role in propelling progress, actively contributing to research, innovative treatments, and the collective endeavor to combat blood cancers. Our significance lies in emphasizing a collaborative approach, essential for addressing the complexities of these diseases and elevating the standard of patient care. As we progress into the future, the importance of continued collective efforts will remain key in advancing the fight against blood cancers.






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