This type of cancer often starts in bone marrow, the spongy tissue inside some of your bones where blood is produced. Your marrow is full of stem cells that develop into white blood cells that fight infection, red blood cells that carry oxygen to tissues throughout the body and platelets that help prevent serious bleeding. In most blood cancers, the normal cell development is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells, preventing your blood from performing many of these key functions.
The three most common forms of blood and marrow cancer are:
Leukemia: Caused by the rapid production of abnormal white blood cells, which crowd the bone marrow so there is less room for healthy blood cells to do their work. Leukemia can be either fast-growing (acute) or slow-growing (chronic), with some forms more common in children, and others occurring mostly in adults.
Lymphoma: Affects the lymphatic system, which removes excess fluids from your body and produces immune cells. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fight infection. Abnormal lymphocytes become lymphoma cells, which multiply in your lymph nodes and other tissues. Over time, these cancerous cells impair your immune system. The two main forms of this condition, Non-Hodgkin and Hodgkin lymphoma, involve different types of lymphocyte cells.
Myeloma: Cancer of the plasma cells, the white blood cells in bone marrow that help fight disease and infection. Myeloma develops when the body overproduces plasma cells, pushing out normal healthy ones and weakening both your bones and your body’s immune system.
While there’s no proven strategy to prevent blood and marrow cancer, there are some ways you may help lower your risk. Start by understanding the cancer risk factors that may affect you, and some simple ways you can promote your good health. If you have a family history of blood and marrow cancer, we also offer complementary genetic cancer counseling to address any concerns.
Because the symptoms of common blood cancers can often be vague or misleading, it’s important to stay proactive about your health. CHI Saint Joseph Health's board-certified primary care physicians offer routine screenings and blood tests to find any signs of the disease early, as well as a full range of follow-up tests to make a diagnosis and put you on the fast track to treatment.
If you’re diagnosed with blood and marrow cancer, rest assured you’re in highly skilled hands. Our team will work closely with you to create a cancer treatment plan tailored to your needs and preferences. We offer the most advanced technology available, and you have access to promising new treatments like immunotherapy and the latest cancer clinical trials.
Throughout your journey, you’ll find a variety of cancer support services to meet your physical, emotional, spiritual and financial needs.