Cancer like most other diseases has the best rates of recovery with early detection and intervention. As there are no regular health screenings for blood cancer, only the awareness about the early warning signs can save your life. September is designated as the Blood Cancer Awareness Month, to ensure every individual is equipped to fight against blood cancer right from the start. Here are 4 vital facts you must know to win your fight against blood cancer.
India has the third-highest number of reported blood cancer patients affecting over 70,000 of the population
Despite the advancements in knowledge of the nature and treatment of blood cancer, problems of blood cancer patients in India are specific to that of a developing country. The low number of registered patients combined with a lack of awareness and access to holistic healthcare results in a high mortality rate.
Lymphoma is more common than Leukemia or Myeloma
In India, 64% of the blood cancer patients present with lymphoma or abnormalities in the cells of the lymphatic system. 25% of the patients present with leukaemia or cancer of the lymphocytes while 11 % of the patients suffer from myeloma that affects the platelets. In the absence of regular health screenings for blood cancer, it is important to look out for the warning signs.
For patients below 25 years of age, common presentations are stomach and joint pain which can indicateLymphoblastic Leukaemia. Between 25-49, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia is more likely with symptoms like fatigue, bleeding, and repeated infections. Above 50, Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemiais common with presentations like weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.
Cancer has warning signs-look out for these
Cancer can give itself away through certain symptoms-
Risk of blood cancer increases with the consumption of tobacco and alcohol
It is predicted that a reduction in the sale of tobacco and alcohol can reduce the burden of blood cancer by up to 30%. Such substances weaken the immune system and can cause abnormalities in the DNA structure of cells resulting in a mutation. Alcohol is known to interfere with the production of new blood cells in the body. Other factors that increase the predisposition to blood cancer are family history, exposure to radiation common in the urban environment, and age.
Despite improvements in medical science and research, the fight against blood cancer it is an uphill task. It can be physically and psychologically challenging for patients without the right support system. The financial burden of treatment is another challenge altogether. However, with regular screenings and keeping an eye for the warning signs from the body, it is not an impossible mission.
Blood Cancer Awareness Month is observed every September to spread awareness about prevention, early warning signs, and treatment procedures of blood cancer. Like any other disease prevention is better than cure, but it is especially true for fatal conditions such as blood cancer. Here is a list of all the things you can do to ensure you are not a victim of blood cancer.
Live a Disciplined and Balanced Life
This is the single most important thing in preventing any disorder and blood cancer is no exception. Living a healthy life with a proper workout schedule and sleep schedule is the key to a disease-free life. Ensure you are eating a balanced diet and are including vitamins, minerals and fibres in the form of fruits and vegetables. Limit the consumption of processed food.
Adopt the Organic Life
Non-organic food items are drenched in fertilizers and pesticides such as variants of benzene. These are known carcinogens in large quantities and augment cancerous growths in your body. Adopting organic food alternatives helps you reduce, if not completely eliminate, putting such chemical compounds in your body.
Steer clear from Smoking
Tobacco is a known carcinogen and can cause several forms of cancer, including blood cancer. It not only puts you at risk, it progressively intensifies your chances of developing cancer.
Learn About Your Family History
Knowing your family history with cancer can help you determine your risk of developing any form of cancer and be more vigilant for the early signs of cancer. It is essential that you do not self-diagnose or medicate yourself and consult your physician, giving him/her an accurate family history and symptoms you are showing.
Know the Symptoms
Although following these tips significantly reduce your likelihood of developing blood cancer, there are other factors such as family predisposition, genetic anomalies, exposure to radiation, consumption of certain drugs and food, etc. that can cause blood cancer. It is therefore essential to keep an eye out for the various symptoms of blood cancer and consult your physician at the earliest. It is easy to rule out the early warning signs of blood cancer or be in denial, but one must always remember that early detection is the key to surviving cancer.
Unlike some forms of cancer, blood cancer has no regular screening tests presently. The doctors solely depend on patients coming in with the warning signs before sending them to sophisticated testing centers. Therefore, a large load of early detection of blood cancer lies with us knowing what the warning signs are.
Different forms of blood cancer have different symptoms
There are broadly three forms of blood cancer-
However, all forms of blood cancer have some common warning symptoms including-
The symptoms change with age
Since different types of blood cancer become more likely at different ages, the symptoms also vary with age. Below 25 years of age, Lymphoblastic Leukaemia is more common and have symptoms including stomach and joint pain which can indicate. Between the ages of 25-49, Acute Myeloid Leukaemia is a common presentation with symptoms such as fatigue, bruising, and recurrent infections. At ages more than 50, the patients present with sudden weight loss, fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue, indicating a possible Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia.
Your symptoms vary with the stage of the blood cancer
Stage 1 blood cancer shows enlargement in the lymph nodes is observed from the sudden increase in lymphocytes in the body, a common indication of infection in the body. The risk is minimum, and the chances of recovery are maximum at this stage. Usually, the cancer is yet to spread to various parts of the body and mostly localized.
The spread begins at this stage. The lymphocyte count increases rapidly causing enlargement of organs like the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.
The risk becomes significant at this stage with the liver and spleen extremely enlarged. Anaemia is a common presentation.
In this final stage of cancer, the immune system of the body shatters and the platelet count drops resulting in severe anaemia. The cancerous cells have by now spread to the lungs and other vital organs. Chances of survival at this stage are extremely bleak.
As evident, early detection and treatment is key to surviving blood cancer. Since the symptoms are commonplace, people tend to ignore them until matter become grave and even fatal. It is best to consult a specialist, especially if you have a family history of cancer, to increase your odds of early detection while you still have a fighting chance.
Despite the progress of medical science, the detection of blood cancer is largely dependent on the early warning signs. The diagnostic tests available are often sophisticated and are not included in regular health screenings.
What are the common symptoms?
If you report with early signs of blood cancer the chances are your doctor will ask you for these tests.
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
This is the first test blood test ordered for suspected blood cancer patients. The number of different types of blood cells is measured in a sample of the blood. Too many or too few of the various types of blood cells indicate abnormalities and cancerous growth.
X-ray, MRI, PET, and CT scans are sometimes ordered by the doctor to gauge the extent and stage of cancer. This test is more commonly ordered for patients suspected of suffering from multiple myelomas.
Methods of early detection of blood cancer have evolved to be sophisticated and accurate even in the very early stages. With awareness and regular medical check-ups, early detection of cancer has become more and more likely.
Blood cancer is a complex condition that affects the blood cells and the bone marrow, which is the source of blood cells. Originating in the bone marrow, the affected blood cells grow uncontrolled and are unable to perform the normal functions including combating diseases. This destroys the immune system of the body that can ultimately prove fatal. Since not many people know much about this form of cancer, the Blood Cancer Awareness Month is organized every year in September by Leukemia and Lymphoma Society to spread the required awareness.
Here are the major types of blood cancer-
Found in the blood and bone marrow this results in the rapid production of white blood cells with abnormal attributes. The body loses its ability to fight infection due to the abnormal white blood cells and the bone marrow is not able to supply the body with red blood cells and platelets.
The main types of leukaemia are
Acute lymphocytic leukaemia affects lymphocytes in the bone marrow and advances rapidly. It is the most commonly affects children between 3 and 5 and adults over age 75 years with a family history of genetic disorders.
Acute myeloid leukaemia affects the myeloid cells first and spread throughout the red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. It is more common in men over age 65. Habits like smoking or blood disorders like myelodysplasia or polycythemia increase the chances of this.
Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia starts in the bone marrow with lymphocytes. Although it has a slow growth, most people remain asymptomatic until it is already too late. It is more common in ages above 70.
Chronic myeloid leukaemia begins in myeloid cells and grows slowly. It is an aftereffect of exposure to large amounts of radiation.
This affects the lymphatic system responsible for the production of immune cells called lymphocytes and the removal of excess fluids from the body. The lymphocytes produced multiply unchecked in the lymph nodes and tissues but are unable to battle infections.
The two types of lymphoma are-
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma: cancer originates from the lymphocytes in the lymphatic system and deteriorates the capabilities of the body to fight infections.
Hodgkin lymphoma: a blood cancer that originates in the B cells or T cell of the lymphatic system and is characterized by the presence of Reed-Sternberg cell. It is more common than the Non-Hodgkin variety.
Lymphomas are more common for people with weak immune systems and between the ages of 15 to 35 and more than 50 years.
This type of blood cancer affects the plasma cells responsible for the production of antibodies essential to fight diseases and infections. The weakened immune system makes even the slightest infections fatal for the patient.
Myeloma is characterized by rapid growth that kills off the healthy blood cells that attempt to supply antibodies and always occurs in more than one place. This condition is known as multiple myeloma and is common for men over 50 years, who are obese or have a family history.
India ranks third after the United States and China in the number of registered blood cancer patients. As with all forms of cancer, early detection is key to the effectiveness of treatment and chances of survival. Therefore, the knowledge of the various types of blood cancer equips you to detect the warning signs that could potentially save your life.
According to the American Cancer Society and Colon Cancer Alliance, colon cancer, which is also referred to as colorectal cancer is regarded as the third most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, as well as the second most important reason of cancer deaths in the U.S. affecting both men and women. But thankfully, colon cancer can be prevented by changing the food habits. It is also important to get regular screenings through colonoscopy, which will help you to determine the early or precancerous stage that can be treated with the removal of cancerous cells.
Colorectal cancer is deemed to be cancer, related to the food habits and it can be prevented by correcting the same. Here are the top ways through which you can help your condition naturally:
Reduce the amount of red meat consumption: Health studies reveal that people who eat red meat on a regular basis are more prone to developing colon cancer. This is because the chemicals required to digest this food damage the DNA material which in turn is the main reason behind the cause of cancer.
Increase the amount of garlic intake: By consuming more garlic, you can reduce the risk of developing different types of cancer, particularly those of the gastrointestinal tract. Garlic is rich in anti-bacterial properties that can block the pathway of cancer causing elements and boost the repair as well as reduce the proliferation of cells. It is also high in selenium and sodiumcontent which are beneficial for the overall health.
Consume all types of plant antioxidants: The bright-coloured fruits and vegetables, as well as herbs and spices, can greatly contribute to adding a wide array of antioxidants in your regular diet. Foods that are rich in antioxidants include carrots, pomegranates, cranberries, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, apples, cabbage, turmeric, sage, rosemary, saffron, purple and red grapes.
Cook foods in sesame oil: The many health benefits of sesame seeds are due to its nutritional content, including vitamins, minerals, natural oils, and organic compounds which consist of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, zinc, fiber, thiamin, vitamin B6, folate, protein, and tryptophan.
Increase the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids: It has been reported by several types of research that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the occurrence of colon cancer and therefore you must eat a lot of salmon, cod, mackerel and sardines for decreasing the pro-inflammatory levels in your body.
Go For Ayurvedic Panchakarma Therapy: Panchakarma is the ultimate mind-body healing experience for detoxifying the body, strengthening the immune system and restoring balance and well-being. It is one the most effective healing modality in Ayurvedic Medicine. It promotes Detoxification and Rejuvenation. It is recommended on a seasonal basis, as well as when an individual feels out of balance or is experiencing illness. According to Ayurveda, good health depends upon our capability to fully metabolize all aspects of life, assimilating that which nourishes and eliminating the rest. When we can’t completely digest our food, experiences, and emotions, toxins accumulate in our bodily tissues, creating imbalance and – ultimately – disease. Panchakarma is an elegant cleansing process that releases stored toxins and restores the body’s innate healing ability.