Blood cancer is a disease that can affect people at any age, including well into their senior years. But, blood cancer really isn’t just one disease. Instead, there are many different kinds of blood cancers. The one thing they all have in common is that they affect the body’s ability to produce healthy blood cells. This month is Blood Cancer Awareness Month, a month dedicated to learning more about the various kinds of blood cancer.
Kinds of Blood Cancer
Of all cancers diagnosed in a year, blood cancers make up around 10 percent of them. There are about 1.2 million people in the United States currently living with blood cancer. While there are treatments for the disease, it is still expected to claim the lives of more than 58,000 people this year.
Some common kinds of blood cancer include:
-Leukemia: This type of blood cancer starts in the tissues that make blood.
-Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma: Cancer that starts in the lymphocytes, which are a kind of white blood cell that helps the body to ward off infections.
-Hodgkin Lymphoma: This cancer also starts in the lymphocytes, but it differs from Non-Hodgkin -Lymphoma because it has a certain kind of malformed lymphocyte called the Reed-Sternberg cell.
-Multiple Myeloma: Multiple myelomas start in the plasma cells.
Blood Cancer Symptoms
Unfortunately, there are currently no tests that screen for blood cancers when they are in their earliest stages and more easily treated. Most people don’t even know that they have blood cancer until symptoms appear. While the symptoms of blood cancer vary a bit depending on the kind of cancer, some general symptoms are:
- A fever and/or chills.
- A feeling of being tired, or fatigued, that does not go away.
- Not feeling hungry or feeling nauseated.
- Losing weight without trying.
- Night Sweats.
- Pain in the bones or joints.
- Feeling short of breath.
- Infections that occur often.
- Skin that is itchy or rashes on the skin.
- Swollen lymph nodes.
Blood cancer is usually treated with a stem cell transplant, chemotherapy, or radiation. The doctor may recommend a combination of these treatments as well.
Regardless of the treatment your aging relative undergoes, senior care can help them through the difficult process. Senior care providers can offer transportation to and from treatment sessions and other medical appointments. A senior care provider can also sit with the older adult at home after treatment to help them with any side effects that occur. One of the most important ways a senior care provider can help your loved one is by offering them companionship and moral support, which can help to take their minds off having a life-threatening disease.
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