In Canada, there are thousands of people that are either living with or in remission from blood cancer. There are as many as 137 types of blood cancers and blood disorders that one can be diagnosed with, including but not limited to: Leukemia, Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Myeloma, as well as other blood cancers that are considered less common – such as myeloproliferative neoplasms and myelodysplastic syndromes – and they are the third-leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian men, and the fourth-leading cause of cancer-related death in Canadian women.
As mentioned, leukemia is one of the more common types of blood cancer, with over 22,000 Canadians either living with or in remission of some form of leukemia. Leukemia can be acute, which may advance rapidly without any treatment, or it can be chronic, where it typically progresses much slower. There are four major types of leukemia can can be diagnosed:
• Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) – A fast-growing type of blood cancer that affects the white blood cells and resulting in cell malfunction in both the bone marrow and blood.
• Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) – A slower progressing form of cancer of the lymphocyte cells.
• Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) – A rapidly progressing cancer of the myeloid stem cells.
• Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) – A slower progressing form of cancer of the myeloid stem cells.
Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is most commonly diagnosed in those under the age of 20, while other forms of leukemia are usually diagnosed in individuals been 65 and 74 years of age.
Lymphoma is another type of cancer that affects white blood cells known as lymphocytes, which are found in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a part of the circulatory system and plays a major role in the body’s immune response, keeping us protected from different diseases and infections. There are two main types of lymphoma:
• Hodgkin Lymphoma – A type of lymphoma that consists of a particular type of large, abnormal lymphocytes in the lymph nodes known as Reed-Sternberg cells.
• Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) – This can develop from abnormal B-cells, T-cells, or other natural killer cells. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can be aggressive and fast-growing, or can progress slower.
Myeloma – also commonly referred to as multiple myeloma – is a type of cancer that affects the plasma cells. The plasma cells are located within the bone marrow and are responsible for producing antibodies that help protect your body from disease. Myeloma can result in the disruption of normal blood production as well as interfere with the functioning of the immune system, causing things like anemia as well as frequent and/or aggressive infections, and it can also cause damage to bone tissue and the kidneys.