Myelodysplastic syndromes, multiple myeloma, lymphoma, and leukemia. These are the four major manifestations of cancer that occur in the blood. Doctors who are experts in the field and in the field of oncohematology at national and international level have explained them in the First Course on Oncohematology.
Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
What is this?
Myelodysplastic syndromes do not refer to a single disease, but to a group of blood cancers. What happens to be generated? Our bone marrow produces blood stem cells (immature cells) that can mature into lymphoid (future white blood cells) or myeloid stem cells (future red blood cells, platelets, or white blood cells). The problem comes when these immature cells do not convert, but die in the marrow or soon to enter the blood, reducing free space for healthy blood cells and platelets. The consequences of this dysfunction are bleeding, anemia or infections.
- Doctor points out that these are under diagnosed diseases, because the main sign is anemia (90% of patients suffer) “which can have many more causes.”
- It is not “a disease of young people”, because “it occurs mainly in patients over 70 years.”
- The chance of developing leukemia is high.
- For treatment, there is the transplant, the only curative option and is reserved especially for young people who can support it, there are also two unique drugs approved and blood transfusions.
What is it?
It is a type of cancer that occurs when there is a failure in the way lymphocytes (cells that are part of the immune system) act. This causes the creation of an abnormal cell that becomes cancerous. One of the characteristics of this cancer is that it originates in the lymph nodes. There are two types of lymphoma: Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (which is then divided into non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma B-cell or T-lymphoma).
- The doctor says that “in Spain there are between 7 or 8 cases per 100,000 inhabitants per year, are rare diseases.”
- The presence of this type of cancer in other parts of the body “can not be interpreted as metastasis, because the lymphoid system is in the whole body and in any place where it may occur.”
- There are 30 different types of lymphoma, “approximately 60% are cured, in the case of Hodgkin’s lymphomas 80% cure”.
- They are more frequent in the 6th decade of life, “although it depends on the lymphoma,” explains the doctor, putting as an example “Burkitt lymphoma, which occurs in young people.”
Multiple Myeloma (MM)
What is it?
A type of cancer of the bone marrow, that “the origin is in the plasma cell, which is transformed by multiplying and always giving the same clone.” Therefore, it is produced by a malignant degeneration of the DNA of the plasma cells (occupied to generate antibodies). The problem is that it eventually invades the bone marrow, decreasing the defenses and increasing the risk of infections, because the bone tumors that are generated make it difficult for the bone marrow to generate healthy blood cells.
- The doctor emphasizes that “it is curable only for 10 or 20% of patients”.
- The average age of those with this disease is between 65 and 70 years.
- Some of the most frequent symptoms: bone pain, asthenia, weakness, tingling or weight loss.
No key trigger factor has been detected.
What is it?
A cancer of the blood in which the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells called leukemia cells that divide to make copies of themselves, so that more leukemia cells are produced that do not die, accumulating and displacing normal cells. This can cause difficulties in carrying oxygen to tissues, in controlling bleeding and in curing infections.
- Although there are some factors (such as previous history of another cancerous disease or genetic disorders) that may raise the risk, “in most patients there is no identifiable cause” in this disease, says the doctor.
- Although its prevalence increases as does age, there is a peak in childhood, because “childhood leukemia is one of the most common cancers in pediatrics.”
- The transplant is the only option to cure, but can only be done to certain people who meet certain requirements. ” In the rest of patients, the objective is to extend survival while ensuring a good quality of life.
Although they are different diseases, in the four papers gave common points in the operation of this type of cancers. One of the issues is that it is often difficult to establish the causes of the onset of the disease. When asked how to prevent it, the answer was one: healthy life.
Another point in common has been the importance of clinical trials to open new ways of healing and to move towards the use of new medicines. And also the need for blood donations, essential for the transfusion that many patients need.