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Cancer Awareness

September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month

The information provided below is from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). They are the largest nonprofit dedicated to creating a world without blood cancers. Since 1949, they’ve invested nearly $1.3 billion in groundbreaking research, pioneering many of today’s most innovative approaches.

A Blood cancer is a type of cancer which affects the production and function of blood cells. Leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are types of blood cancer that can affect the bone marrow, the blood cells, the lymph nodes and other parts of the lymphatic system.

  • Common signs and symptoms: Swollen lymph nodes, recurrent nosebleeds, tiredness, frequent infections, weight loss, bleeding, and bone pain.

How common are blood cancers?

  • Rare (Fewer than 200,000 cases per year in US)

Risk factors for developing blood cancer:

  • Gender
    • Some blood cancers occur more often in males than females. However, this doesn't mean that females don't get blood cancer. There are simply a higher percentage of males who get certain blood cancers than females.
  • Exposure to some chemotherapy drugs
    • Some chemotherapy drugs, including alkylating agents, platinum agents, and topoisomerase II inhibitors, have been linked to an increased risk of certain blood cancers. In some cases, people who have been treated with these chemotherapy drugs may develop myelodysplastic syndrome, a specific type of blood cancer.
  • Exposure to radiation
    • Previous exposure to radiation treatment for other cancers can increase the risk of developing blood cancer. The effect of radiation was studied in people exposed to the atomic bombs in Japan. Generally, the higher the dose of radiation, the greater the risk of developing blood cancer, and the extreme doses of radiation at the atomic bomb sites, as well as at nuclear reactor accident sites, greatly increases the risk of blood cancer.
  • Exposure to some chemicals
    • Certain chemicals, including some used in chemotherapy treatments used for cancer, can increase a person's risk of developing blood cancer. One chemical in particular that can increase the risk of certain blood cancers is benzene. Benzene can be found in cigarette smoke, many cleaning products, detergents, art supplies, paint strippers, and glue. Benzene can also be used in the rubber, chemical, oil, and gasoline industries.
  • Having certain genetic syndromes
    • There are some inherited syndromes that are associated with a higher risk of developing certain blood cancers, including Fanconi anemia, Bloom syndrome, ataxia-telangiectasia, Diamond-Blackfan anemia, Schwachman-Diamond syndrome, Down syndrome, severe congenital neutropenia, trisomy 8, and neurofibromatosis type
  • Family history
    • Having a close family member (like a parent or a sibling) who has a certain blood cancer can potentially increase a person's risk of developing the disease.
    • It is possible to detect risk factors and diagnose risk factors through routine medical check-ups. If you have any questions about blood cancer or would like to talk to someone about it the best first place is your primary care provider.
    • Multiple studies have found that firefighters are at an increased risk for several types of cancer due to the smoke and hazardous chemicals they are exposed to in the line of duty.

It is possible to detect risk factors and diagnose risk factors through routine medical check-ups. If you have any questions about blood cancer or would like to talk to someone about it the best first place is your primary care provider.

References:

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society | Blood Cancer Leaders | LLS

What Are The Risk Factors & Causes of Blood Cancer? (blood-cancer.com)