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Diagnosing & Treating Blood Cancer

Blood cancer is cancer of the lymphatic system, bone marrow, or blood cells. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system, which helps fight infection. Bone marrow is spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made. 

There are three main types of blood cancer:

  • Lymphoma, which often begins in the lymph nodes and involves white blood cells called lymphocytes. Cancerous lymphocytes grow and divide too quickly, causing problems with organs throughout the body.
  • Myeloma, which affects bone marrow and plasma cells — a type of white blood cell responsible for making antibodies.
  • Leukemia, which affects bone marrow and white blood cells. Leukemia causes too many immature white blood cells to be released into the bloodstream, crowding out healthy white blood cells.

Dignity Health oncologists are known for providing personalized, progressive, and compassionate care. We treat cancer with advanced protocols and state-of-the-art technologies to get you back to your healthier life as soon as possible. Find a Doctor at one of our Bay Area hospitals: 

Blood Cancer Symptoms

In many cases, there are no signs of blood cancer in its early stages. In fact, you can have some blood cancers for years before you notice any symptoms. 

Symptoms of blood cancer vary by type, but can include:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Headaches
  • Night sweats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Blood cancers can also cause symptoms related to abnormal levels of blood cells that aren’t working correctly, including: 

  • Easy bleeding, bruising, and tiny red spots under the skin caused by low levels of platelets, the blood cells responsible for normal blood clotting
  • Anemia, which causes tiredness and weakness due to low levels of red blood cells
  • Difficulty fighting off infections, leading to swollen glands, fevers, chills, and even more frequent infections 

Many of these symptoms can be caused by medical conditions other than blood cancer. A Dignity Health doctor can help you understand what is causing your symptoms and find the right treatment plan for you.

Blood Cancer Treatment in the Bay Area

Chemotherapy is a common treatment for all types of blood cancers. Additional treatment options depend on the type of blood cancer. Dignity Health oncologists may also recommend:

  • Targeted therapy
  • Biologic therapy
  • Stem cell transplants
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery 

If you are concerned about blood cancer, talk with your doctor to find out what you can do to reduce your risk. In some cases, genetic counseling and cancer screenings at Dignity Health can help identify risk factors.