Blood cancer symptoms: The unusual sign that could signal the disease

Blood cancer is an umbrella term for a range of cancers that occur when something goes wrong with the development of a person’s blood cells – this stops them working properly and they may grow out of control. One of the main types of blood cancer is called lymphoma. Lymphoma is cancer that starts in the lymph glands or other organs of the lymphatic system. The most common sign of the condition can be seen in the neck, armpit or groin, according to blood cancer charity Leukaemia Care UK.

As the charity explained, the most common sign of the condition is often a painless swelling in the neck, armpit or groin that is caused by enlarged lymph nodes.

According to the charity Bloodwise, they’re usually painless, although some people find they ache.

“If there are lumps or swellings further inside your body, and they press on organs such as your lungs, this can cause pain, discomfort and / or breathlessness,” noted the health site.

According to Leukaemia Care, other symptoms may include:

  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Fevers
  • Unexplained loss of weight
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Persistent itching
  • Abdominal pain or diarrhoea
  • Bruising
  • Recurrent infections

“As with many forms of cancer, the signs and symptoms of lymphoma can vary from person to person, so it’s very important to get tested by a professional for a full diagnosis,” explained Bloodwise.

Find out more about the symptoms of blood cancer here. 

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin lymphoma

Mayo Clinic

There are two main kinds of lymphoma – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is more common than Hodgkin lymphoma, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“It’s only possible to tell the difference between Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma when the cells are looked at under a microscope,” said Leukaemia UK.

What are the risk factors?

According to Cancer Research UK, older age is the main risk factor for lymphoma cancer.

This largely reflects cell DNA damage accumulating over time, said the charity.

Damage can result from biological processes or from exposure to risk factors, the cancer charity noted.

A weakened immune system is another key risk factor. As the charity explained: “People whose immune system is not working as well as it should are more likely to develop a lymphoma.”

Immunity can be lowered for the following reasons:

  • Taking drugs to stop organ rejection after a transplant
  • HIV or AIDS
  • Being born with a rare medical condition that affects immunity
  • Autoimmune diseases

If you a person has an autoimmune disease, their own immune system attacks their body tissue as it would attack a germ, explained the health site.

Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, haemolytic anaemia, coeliac disease, Sjogren’s syndrome and systemic lupus erythematosus.

Other risk factors can include:

  • Infections
  • Coeliac disease
  • Family history
  • Previous cancer and treatment

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