Each month in the year is designated by stakeholders as a health awareness month to raise awareness of various medical conditions and to encourage communities and individuals to come together in understanding, support, and action. With its gentle transition from summer to fall, September brings attention to the intricate and frequently underappreciated world of blood cancer.
September’s golden-hued leaves remind us of the countless lives affected by these illnesses and the urgent need to increase awareness, educate the public, and promote research. This article is designed to bring awareness to Blood Cancer Awareness Month, which is a 30-day journey devoted to comprehending, empathizing with, and supporting those afflicted by blood cancers.
What Is Blood Cancer?
Blood cancer refers to a set of tumors that affect the production and function of blood cells. They are able to affect the tissues that impact the body’s ability to create healthy blood cells. There are a number of types and sub-types of blood cancers. This complicates diagnosis and treatment.
The risk factors for blood cancer include genetics, chemical and radiation exposure, immune system abnormalities, and infections. Symptoms may include fatigue, unexplained weight loss, recurrent infections, easy bruising or bleeding, swollen lymph nodes, and bone discomfort. The precise type, stage, and patient-specific characteristics all affect how blood cancers are treated.
What is blood cancer? – DKMS UK
Blood Cancer Types
The three main types of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma.
Leukemia: Leukemia develops in the bone marrow, the place where blood cells are created. It causes abnormal white blood cells to be produced, known as leukemia cells. These cells overtake healthy blood cells, leading to bleeding problems, anemia, and a weak immune system. Leukemia is further divided according to the specific types of affected white blood cells.
Lymphoma: This type of blood cancer comes about in the lymphatic system of the immune system. Your lymphatic system comprises lymph nodes, lymphatic veins, and organs such as the thymus and spleen. The cancer develops in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell, causing tumors to develop in lymph nodes. There are two main types of lymphoma: Hodgkins and non-Hodgkins.
Myeloma: Myeloma cancer starts in plasma cells. Plasma cells are white blood cells that create antibodies that fight against infection. Corrupted plasma cells multiply at an alarming rate, developing into tumors in bone marrow. This may result in kidney issues, anemia, fractures, and bone soreness.
Raising Awareness During September
Despite their terrible effects, blood malignancies sometimes remain unnoticed by the general population, as more common illnesses often overshadow them. Blood Cancer Awareness Month powerfully addresses this lack of understanding, which aims to close the information gap, debunk myths, and inspire hope. September becomes a canvas painted with tales of resiliency and solidarity resulting from the medical community, patients, survivors, carers, and activists dedicating a full month to education and advocacy.
An extensive advocacy strategy is at the core of Blood Cancer Awareness Month. International and regional organizations plan campaigns and activities that aim to educate and uplift. The month is humming with activity, from lectures given by medical professionals explaining the most recent advancements in therapy to panel discussions where survivors share their motivational stories. Patients and their families, who might feel ostracized by their diagnosis, take comfort in the community fostered by these gatherings and learn that they are not fighting their battles alone.
The color orange has been adopted as the official color of Blood Cancer Awareness Month. The month of September sees famous places all over the world painted orange to symbolize the fight against blood malignancies. The message is widely disseminated via social media platforms, decorated with orange ribbons and potent personal stories. The color serves as a light of hope for people currently facing these diseases and a symbol of our common quest to eradicate them.
Blood Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms may change depending on what type of blood cancer you have but may include:
- Rapid weight loss
- Lack of hunger
- Impaired immune functioning/proneness to infection
- Ease of bruising and bleeding
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Pain in the bones
- Night sweats
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rash
Blood Cancer Risk Factors
The main risk factors for blood cancer may include:
- Genetic factors such as mutations that increase your risk for cancer
- Radiation exposure from things like chemicals, nuclear accidents, and some medical procedures
- Specific infections, such as human T-cell leukemia virus (HTLV-1) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)
- Immune system abnormalities (i.e., autoimmune diseases)
Blood Cancer’s Side Effects
Blood cancer can have widespread consequences on a person’s life, affecting many different areas of it. The physical side effects of blood cancer and its therapies might range from weariness to discomfort, nausea, and/or reduced immune response.
A cancer diagnosis can bring about emotional upset, worry, stress, and depression. General quality of life will be affected due to treatments, doctor’s visits, and other necessary lifestyle changes. This might impair relationships, employment, and social activities. Cancer victims and their families may have a heavy financial weight to bear due to the price of medical procedures, prescription drugs, and other forms of assistance.
Steps to Take
Immediate and informed action is crucial to ensure effective care, manage symptoms, and enhance general well-being when faced with the risk of blood cancer or any other major health condition. Here are some crucial steps to think about:
- Speak With a Medical Professional: It’s imperative to see a doctor if you’re displaying any chronic or alarming symptoms, such as unexplained weight loss, exhaustion, frequent illnesses, or odd bruising. A hematologist/oncologist who focuses on malignancies and blood problems or your primary care physician should be consulted first.
- Medical Evaluation and Diagnosis: Your doctor may give you a physical exam and review your medical history. This may be followed by extra testing involving blood work, scans, and a bone marrow biopsy.
- Nutrition: Consider speaking with an oncology-focused registered dietician if you’re having particular dietary difficulties due to your treatment so they can help you customize your diet.
- Pain Management: Be honest with your healthcare team if you are suffering pain that is connected to blood cancer or its treatment. In addition to prescription drugs, physical therapy, and relaxation methods, they can suggest other pain treatment techniques.
- Supportive Care: Speak with blood cancer–specific oncology social workers, support groups, and patient advocacy organizations. These resources can offer links to other people dealing with related issues, emotional support, knowledge about coping mechanisms, and coping strategy information.
The 30-day Blood Cancer Awareness Month campaign during September sheds light on the difficulties patients fighting leukemia, lymphoma, and myeloma encounter. It aims to dispel falsehoods, provide assistance, and advance research, education, empathy, and advocacy. Join this global movement with us. Let’s spread awareness, support patients, and stoke the fire of hope. We can encourage early detection, support research, and transform lives by working together.