Questions To Ask Your Doctor About A Blood Cancer Diagnosis
If you receive a cancer diagnosis, you will likely have many questions.
Your doctor and other members of your care team will be your best source to learn about your specific situation.
Here are some questions from the American Cancer Society you might want to ask your doctor:
- Can you do biomarker or molecular testing for my type of blood cancer?
- What are my treatment choices?
- What blood cancer treatment do you suggest? Why?
- How soon do I need to start treatment? Is watchful waiting” an option?
- How will treatment affect my work, family, and daily activities?
- How likely is my blood cancer to return after treatment?
- Should I think about joining a clinical trial?
How Is Blood Cancer Diagnosed
Determining a diagnosis often starts with a physical examination to check your general health. Your doctor will review your health history, examine your body and lymph nodes, and look for any signs of infection or bruising.
Different types of tests and procedures may be used to diagnose blood cancer. What you need will depend on the type of blood cancer suspected. Your care team may recommend testing and evaluate all the results along with you to make a diagnosis.
Common Symptoms Of Colon Cancer In Women
Not every woman experiences early symptoms of colon cancer. Symptoms that do occur can vary depending on the size and location of the cancer.
Possible symptoms of colon cancer include:
- Changes in bowel habits that last longer than a few days. This may include a change to the consistency of stools, diarrhea, or constipation.
- Bright red bleeding from the rectum
- Bloody stools that may make stools appear brown or black
- Pain or cramping in the abdomen
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Signs And Symptoms Of Leukaemia
Symptoms can depend on how quickly a leukaemia develops. You should see your GP if you notice any of these leukaemia symptoms.
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Leukaemia is a cancer of the blood cells. If you have leukaemia, your body makes some abnormal blood cells. These leukaemia cells behave differently from healthy blood cells.
Symptoms can depend on how quickly a leukaemia develops.
Slower growing leukaemias such as chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and chronic myeloid leukaemia may cause no symptoms in the early stages. They may be discovered by chance after a routine blood test. If you do have symptoms, these may be mild and develop gradually. The symptoms can be confused with the symptoms of more common illnesses, such as flu.
Faster growing leukaemias such as acute myeloid leukaemia or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia are more likely to cause symptoms that appear over a few weeks. People often feel ill quite quickly. Most symptoms of acute leukaemia are caused by leukaemia cells filling the bone marrow. This means healthy blood cells do not move into the blood as normal.
If you have any of the following symptoms, you should always tell your doctor and have them checked. But remember, these symptoms can also be caused by many other illnesses.
We understand that showing any symptoms of what could be cancer is worrying. The most important thing is to speak to your GP as soon as possible. We’re also here if you need someone to talk to. You can:
- Chat to our specialists online.
Blood Cancer Symptoms In Females
While the symptoms of blood cancer in females can vary depending on the type, there are some general signs that may indicate you have the disease. If you experience any of the following symptoms, its important to see a doctor right away:
- Unexplained fatigue or weakness
- Enlarged lymph nodes, liver, or spleen
- Easy bruising or bleeding
If you have any concerns about your health, its always best to speak with a doctor. They will be able to run tests and give you a more specific idea of what may be going on.
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What Is Blood Cancer
Blood cancer affects how your body produces blood cells and how well those cells work. Most blood cancers start in your bone marrow, the soft, sponge-like material in the center of your bones. Your bone marrow makes stem cells that mature and become red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
Normal blood cells fight infection, carry oxygen throughout your body and control bleeding. Blood cancer happens when something disrupts how your body makes blood cells. If you have blood cancer, abnormal blood cells overwhelm normal blood cells, creating a ripple effect of medical conditions. More people are living longer with blood cancer, as healthcare providers find new ways to treat it.
Urgent Or Frequent Urination
In addition to unusual sensations during urination, you may find that your urinary habits have changed. Having to urinate more often can be an early symptom of bladder cancer. Sometimes, the need to go to the bathroom may wake you up several times a night.
You may also feel an urgency to go, even if your bladder isnt full.
Difficulty with urination or having a weak urine stream may also occur.
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Blood Cancer Symptoms And Signs
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Blood cancer symptoms vary depending on the type of blood cancer, whether it’s leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, MDS, MPN or any other blood cancer.
Blood cancer symptoms include:
- Weight loss that is unexplained
- Bruising or bleeding that is unexplained
- Lumps or swellings
- Infections that are persistent, recurrent or severe
- Fever that is unexplained
- Rash or itchy skin that is unexplained
- Pain in your bones, joints or abdomen
- Tiredness that doesnt improve with rest or sleep
Blood cancer: what are the common symptoms?
We have more specific information about symptoms for different types of blood cancer. Scroll down for more detailed information about blood cancer symptoms.
Not everyone will have the same symptoms, and some people may have symptoms that are not listed on this page.
Unexplained Bleeding Or Bruising
Unexplained bleeding or bruising when you have not hurt yourself is important to get checked out by your doctor. This includes blood in your poo or pee, as well as vomiting or coughing up blood. It also includes any unexplained vaginal bleeding between periods, after sex or after the menopause. No matter how much blood or what colour it is , speak to your doctor.
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How Is Leukemia Diagnosed
To find out if a child has leukemia, a doctor will:
- Ask questions about the symptoms.
- Do an exam to check for signs of infection, anemia, unusual bleeding, and swollen lymph nodes.
- Feel the child’s belly to check the liver and spleen because leukemia can make these organs get bigger.
The doctor also will order some blood tests. Depending on the results, other testing done can include:
Who Is At Risk For Blood Cancer
The risk factors for blood cancer are not fully understood, though it is believed that blood cancers develop from a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Smoking, radiation exposure, and exposure to certain chemicals have all been linked to increased risk of some types of blood cancers. Epstein-Barr virus, HIV and human T-cell lymphoma/leukemia virus infections are also risk factors for developing lymphomas and leukemias.
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A Variety Of Other Physical Mental And Emotional Symptoms
Survey respondents also shared that they have dealt with a wide range of symptoms and treatment side effects impacting their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These responses show that blood cancer has a far-reaching effect on the people living with it. Symptoms shared include:
- Skin irritation and/or changes
- Breathing problems such as shortness of breath
- Loss of sex drive
Only 7 percent of participants reported having no symptoms at all in the past month.
These results indicate that although life with blood cancer may be varied, there are some aspects of the condition that might be shared by a large number of individuals. Most are still currently experiencing symptoms as a result of their diagnosis and treatment.
The 3rd Blood Cancer In America survey was conducted online from September 2019 through February 2020. 1,919 people completed the survey.
How Many Kinds Of Blood Cancer Exist
There are three primary types of blood cancer:
- Leukemia is cancer of white blood cells or cells that become white blood cells. Leukemia prevents white blood cells from fighting infections in your body. Leukemia can be either acute or chronic , and affect the lymphocytes or other immune cells . Its the most common blood cancer for children under the age of 15.
- Lymphoma is cancer of the lymphatic system , particularly lymph nodes . It affects a type of white blood cell called lymphocytes. The type doctors know the most about is called Hodgkins lymphoma . Its the most common form of blood cancer in adults, accounting for over half of all diagnosed blood cancer cases.
- Myeloma is cancer of the plasma cells, which are lymphocytes that make antibodies to protect against infections. Myeloma affects your bodys immune system, leaving it susceptible to infection.
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Identifying Early Symptoms Of Blood Cancer
Blood cancer is a medical condition in which blood-forming tissues start growing uncontrollably. Blood cancer affects the production and functioning of the blood cells. Most blood cancers start in the bone marrow and the lymphatic system.
Our bone marrow forms the component of blood, such as white blood cells , red blood cells , and platelets. In blood cancer, the usual blood cell formation process gets interrupted, and abnormal blood cells start growing uncontrollably. These abnormal cancerous cells interfere with the normal functions of cells and develop numerous ailments.
The following are the three main types of blood cancers:
- Leukemia: This is the most common type of blood cancer and develops when the abnormal white blood cells start rapidly growing. Leukemia interrupts the normal functioning of the white blood cells, such as fighting infection. It also affects bone marrow functioning to produce red blood cells and platelets.
- Myeloma: This cancer develops when the plasma cells in the blood start growing abnormally. Myeloma interferes antibodies production in your body, which weakens the immune system.
- Lymphoma: This blood cancer affects the lymphatic system and impairs our immune system.
What are the early signs and symptoms of blood cancer?
Generally, blood cancer doesnt show any differentiating symptoms in the early stages. Still, the following signs and symptoms are alarming, and you should talk to your doctor about them:
Living With Blood Cancer
A diagnosis of blood cancer can be frightening, but its important to remember that there are many treatments available and most people with the disease go on to live long and healthy lives If you have blood cancer, there are a few things you can do to help manage your symptoms and side effects:
- Get plenty of rest
- Exercise regularly
Speak with your doctor about any concerns you have. They can help you find ways to cope with your diagnosis and treatment.
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The Symptoms Of Blood Cancer
There are multiple signs and symptoms of blood cancer. These depend on the type of blood cancer a patient is experiencing. Many people do not feel the symptoms until the disease reaches its advanced stage. Occasionally the symptoms can also be mistaken as signs of severe flu or cold. The overall symptoms include:
Loss of appetite or nausea
Swollen armpits, groin and painless lymph nodes in the neck
Many people do not feel the presence of it, till the disease reaches its advanced stage of blood cancer. There are times when the symptoms are mistaken as a sign of common cold or flu.
2. What are Leukemia symptoms?
Most types of leukaemia show no obvious sign of symptom development in its early stage. The Leukemia symptoms develop eventually to experience the following situations:
The tendency of bruised or bleeding easily, including gums, nose, blood in stool or urine
Anaemia and other symptoms like pallor, fatigue and a general feeling of illness
Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, groin and armpits
Susceptibility to infections like bronchial pneumonia, sore throat, immense headache, mouth sores, low-grade fever or skin rash
Experiencing discomfort under the lower ribs on the left side causing a swollen spleen
Loss of weight and appetite
High white blood cell counts
3. What are the reasons for Blood Cancer?
4. What are the late effects?
5. Is Myeloma a type of blood cancer?
6. Why is staging done in blood cancer?
7. Can the risk of blood cancer be reduced?
Belly Pelvic Or Back Pain
Pain in your torso is common with conditions like endometriosis. It can also be cramps from your menstrual cycle. But long-lasting aches or pressure in your belly, pelvis, or back can be a sign of several kinds of cancer. That includes colorectal, ovarian, and endometrial cancers.
You may also get lower back pain if you have a tumor on your spine, or cancer that has spread from somewhere else. Itâs rare, but upper belly pain that spreads to your back and comes with unexplained weight loss may be a sign of pancreatic cancer.
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Blood Cancer Survival Rates
A blood cancer prognosis varies based on the type and other factors, including your overall health, age and response to treatment.
According to the National Cancer Institutes Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program, the five-year relative survival rate is 65 percent for leukemiaa number that has improved dramatically in the past 50 years. Other rates include:
Confusion With Gynecological Issues
Some of the symptoms of colon cancer in women that may be mistaken for normal symptoms of menstruation or other gynecological issues include:
- Changes to bowel habits, diarrhea, and constipation that are also common during menstruation
- Abdominal cramping that could be mistaken for menstrual cramps
- Feelings of tiredness that could be dismissed as being due to premenstrual syndrome
The median age of diagnosis of colon cancer in females is 71, compared with 67 in males. When you include rectal cancer, the median age is 69 for females and 66 for males.
Though colon cancer is more likely to affect older people who are no longer menstruating, the number of people under age 50 who are diagnosed with colorectal cancer is on the rise.
Between 2012 and 2016, the incidence of colorectal cancer increased by 2% every year in those younger than 50, and 1% every year in those ages 50 to 64.
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Symptoms Of Acute Blood Cancer
Caused by a very high level of white blood cells
Some types of blood cancer such as acute myeloid leukaemia develop very quickly and make you suddenly very unwell. This is known as leukostasis or blast crisis. Symptoms may include breathing problems and neurological symptoms like visual changes, confusion, vomiting, loss of muscle control or seizures. Anyone with these symptoms needs medical attention immediately.
I’ve been told I have blood cancer
Find answers about what happens next and coping with emotions and everyday life.
Unexplained Rash Bruising Or Bleeding
Caused by a low level of platelets, which help the blood to clot
Bruises are a sign of bleeding under the skin and often happen after an injury, but if they appear for no reason, they can be a sign of low platelets. They show as darker or a different colour to the skin around them and may feel tender when you touch them.
You may see small spots in the skin or larger discoloured patches . These look like a rash but are actually clusters of small bruises. On black and brown skin petechiae and purpura typically look purple or darker than the surrounding skin and on lighter skin they tend to show as red or purple.
You may have bleeding from your nose or gums, prolonged bleeding from a cut, heavy periods, or blood in your urine or poo. In very rare cases, there may be a bleed into the brain, which can cause neurological symptoms.
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Breast Or Nipple Changes
A lump doesnât mean you have breast cancer. But get a new one checked out, especially if it sticks around for longer than a couple of weeks.
Other symptoms to watch out for include:
- A swollen breast
- Lump in your armpit or collarbone
- Nipple discharge, either bloody or clear
- Nipples that point inward
- Skin that looks like an orange peel
- Breast or nipple pain
- Red, itchy, or thick nipple or breast skin
Some experts think itâs a good idea to check your breasts and underarms once a month. Others disagree. Your doctor can help you decide if that’s right for you. Theyâll also tell you how often you need a mammogram. Thatâs an X-ray that looks for changes in your breast tissue.
Symptoms Of Advanced Bladder Cancer In Women
Undiagnosed and untreated bladder cancer may advance, causing additional symptoms. Many of these result from the original tumor getting larger.
As bladder cancer progresses, it penetrates the bladder lining and the surrounding layers of muscle and tissue. If the cancer continues to metastasize , it may also cause symptoms in nearby or faraway organs and tissues.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Myeloma
Sometimes myeloma does not cause any symptoms. It may be found when a blood or urine test is done for another condition and a higher than normal level of protein is found. When more advanced, symptoms of myeloma may include bone pain, especially in the back or ribs bones that break easily fever for no known reason frequent infections bruising or bleeding easily trouble breathing weakness of the arms or legs and feeling very tired.
These symptoms can also come from other conditions. If you have any of them, talk to your doctor.