Blood Cancer Treatment in Utah
Breast cancer symptoms vary from person to person and there is no exact definition of what a lump or mass feels like. The best thing to do is to be familiar with your breasts so you know how “normal” feels and looks. If you notice any changes, tell your doctor. While regular self-exams are important, many breast cancers are found through regular screening mammograms before any symptoms appear.
The human body has three types of blood cells:
- Red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
- White blood cells to fight infection.
- Platelets that form clots to slow or stop bleeding both internal and external.
Cancers of the blood and lymph inhibit blood cells from functioning properly.
Normal blood cells die when they no longer work, but cancerous white blood cells don’t die and they make copies of themselves. In a person with leukemia, the blood stem cells make abnormal white blood cells that don’t work properly. Normal blood cells die when they no longer work, but cancerous white blood cells don’t die and they make copies of themselves. Soon, the abnormal white blood cells are crowding out the healthy blood cells.
Once there are a lot of these abnormal cells taking the place of the healthy ones, the person’s blood can’t do what it is supposed to do. The person can’t get enough oxygen to the body, fight infections, or clot blood to stop bleeding.
Leukemia cells can either grow slowly and cause problems over time (chronic) or grow quickly and cause an immediate and sudden problem (acute).
Four most common types of leukemia:
- Acute lymphoblastic (lymphocytic) leukemia – ALL
- Acute myeloid (myelogenous) leukemia – AML
- Chronic lymphocytic leukemia- CLL
- Chronic myeloid (myelogenous) leukemia- CML
All different types of leukemia will have different treatments. The one thing they have in common is they begin in a cell in the bone marrow. The cell will undergo a change and become a type of leukemia cell.
Diagnosis & Treatment for Blood Cancer:
Common Diagnostic screenings for blood cancers:
- Complete blood count (CBC) test – This blood test may show high or low levels of white blood cells (infection fighters). Sometimes red blood cells (carry oxygen to the body) and platelet (forms clots) counts are low.
- Bone marrow aspiration – a liquid sample of cells taken from the bone marrow. This is done by a needle. The sample is most often collected from a patient’s hip bone.
- Bone marrow biopsy – A small amount of bone filled with marrow cells is removed by the same procedure with a needle. Marrow is the cell factory making portion of your bones.
The samples are reviewed and tested under a microscope to identify the chromosome abnormalities. This identifies the type of leukemia, so your physician can determine which treatment options are right for you.
Treatment is determined by the type of Leukemia. If it is chronic it can, in some instances, be in a period called “watch and wait.” This means that no treatment is advised at that time but is monitored to see if it progresses in which treatment would be advised. Acute Leukemias require treatment and may include targeted therapy, chemotherapy and/or stem cell transplants.
Targeted therapy: Medication that targets and kills specific cancer cells. It does not cause as many side effects as chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy: Medication that kills or damages cancer cells and can sometimes affect healthy cells. It has an array of potential side effects that your provider will discuss with you how to manage symptoms. The goal of therapy is to bring a patient into remission where there are no signs of the disease and the patient can return to good health.
Stem cell transplant: A procedure that replaces healthy cells to a person whose cells have been abnormal and defective. This is quite a process to get a patient ready for transplant and requires chemotherapy prior to, a lot of additional work up procedures and planning on which type of transplant is appropriate. Some transplants are to replace healthy cells only and other transplants are used to help fight the cancer. Ask your physician if you are eligible for a transplant. The goal of this treatment is to bring a patient into a complete remission.