Lymphoma / Leukemia / Myeloma: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Leukemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma all are three types of cancer which are interrelated with each other. Leukemia is commonly famous as blood cancer or cancer of blood cells. It targets the white blood cells which are mainly linked to the immunity. Lymphoma is cancer which affects the lymphatic system. It is further divided into two types; myeloma is one of them. Following is a complete description of all three cancer types.

Leukemia

Cancer which targets and kills white blood cells or bone marrow where these white blood cells are produced is called Leukemia. It reduces the immunity to such a low level that the body is unable to defend itself.  There is no particular cause of developing leukemia. However, some individual factors put people at higher risk such as;

Its point of origin can be either lymphoid or myeloid. The one which starts from lymphoid is called lymphocytic leukemia whereas cancer which originates from myeloid cells is called myelogenous leukemia. The severity of this particular cancer type is variable. It can be either acute or chronic. Acute leukemia only attacks the new cells which are called “blast cells.” It makes them so weak that they can’t perform their function. In chronic condition, it only attacks the mature blast cells making them run out of function.

Symptoms

Its symptoms include the following.

  • General symptoms: Nausea, fever, flu, weight loss, bone pain, fatigue, night sweats, chilliness, etc.
  • Specific Symptoms: Poor blood clotting in case of an injury, low immunity which is slowly reducing and a shortage of red blood cells and anemia.

Treatment

The treatment for acute and chronic leukemia is different. For acute leukemia patients, the treatment should start as soon as possible which includes chemotherapy. In some conditions, bone marrow transplant reduces the risk of its spread.

For chronic leukemia, the treatment varies per stage. Usually, it combines targeted therapy, interferons, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery and sometimes stem cell transplant. The treatment of chronic leukemia is different as it is directed towards one particular part of the cancer cell.

Lymphoma

Cancer originating from lymphatic system especially lymph nodes is termed as lymphoma. It has two subtypes: Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin. Out of all lymphoma cases, 10% are Hodgkin, and 90% are non-Hodgkin. It affects people of all ages, but somehow, younger people are at a higher risk. It is not fatal. It is entirely treatable if it is diagnosed. In non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, B and T cells from immune system are affected. In Hodgkin’s lymphoma, cancer cells are not separate but the actual B lymphocyte which starts working abnormally. It is then called Reed-Sternberg cell. The risk factors to get lymphoma are as follows.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Age, gender, ethnicity, exposure to chemicals and radiations, low immunity, autoimmune disease, bacterial and viral infection, diet, smoking, etc.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma: Infectious mononucleosis, age, gender, ethnicity, family genetic history, affluence, HIV infection, diet, smoking etc.

Symptoms

The symptoms for Lymphoma are not painful except for swelling in lymph nodes. But that is similar to swelling as that of alcohol usage. The general symptoms are usually mild, some of the most prominent symptoms are as follows.

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  •  Swelling in ankles
  •  Abdominal cramps
  •  Stomach ache
  •  Fever and chills
  •  Body itching
  •  Loss of appetite and weight loss
  •  Shortness of breath
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Fatigue

Treatment

The treatment of Lymphoma depends upon which stage is to be treated. The common treatment methods are written as follows.

  • Biologic Therapy: It is an immune booster for the body. It includes certain treatments such as monoclonal antibodies, smart drugs, radioimmunotherapy, Interleukin 2 Treatments, and Vaccines.
  • Chemotherapy: It is the chemical way of getting rid of the cancer cells. It is not specific and may affect the normal cells too.
  • Radiation Therapy: It uses high energy X-Rays to attack and kill the affected cancer cells. It is a specific treatment which only influences the target area.
  • Transplants: Sometimes chemo is so damaging that it destroys the bone marrow which is a hub for white blood cells production. For this situation, a bone marrow transplant is required which re-grows the white blood cells.

Myeloma

Myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells. Plasma cells are a subdivision of white blood cells which are a major part of immune system. Plasma cells are also originated from bone marrow. When the condition of Myeloma occurs, it induces plasma cells to be produced on a larger level. Only a few of them are used and rest are collected in the body. The bone marrow keeps on making the new cells and the excessive cells are accumulated in various bones. Scientists don’t fully predict the reasons to catch Myeloma. There are certain things which increase the chance of getting Myeloma such as;

  • Age (50-70 years)
  • Ethnicity (White)
  • Gender (Men)
  • Genetics
  • Exposure to chemicals and radiations

Symptoms

Although most of the patients of Myeloma have no obvious symptom. All the symptoms which can show up are often times confused with other diseases. These general symptoms include;

  • Bone problems (Pain, weakness, damage, fracture, degraded bones)
  • Low blood count (Anemia, leucopenia, thrombocytopenia etc)
  • Calcium levels (hypercalcemia) can cause:
  • Nervous system problems (Spine pain, numbness, weakness)
  • Nerve damage
  • Kidney problems
  • Hyperviscosity
  • Frequent infections
  • General symptoms: Pain, nausea, constipation, appetite loss, fatigue.

Treatment

Although the treatments are only a chance and it never really assures that Myeloma will be recovered or not. The standard treatment methods include following.

  • Target Therapy: It is done through medicines which block the action of myeloma cells and kill them. It is inserted into the body through veins.
  • Biological Therapy: It includes the usage of medicines in tablet form which boosts the immunity. They identify and attack the cancer cells.
  • Chemotherapy: This treatment includes medicines which kill the cancer cells. The intake method can be either pill or vein. It is often times accompanied by stem cell transplant.
  • Stem cell transplantation: It is a surgical method to replace the infected bone marrow with healthy bone marrow which rebuilds the plasma cells.
  • Radiation therapy: This method uses high energy X-Rays which directly target and kills myeloma cells.