“Growing number of Blood cancer is driving patients from across the globe to India for trained oncologist, cutting-edged cancer hospitals and affordable cost of treatment than other countries”
Blood cancer or leukemia refers to a condition, in which number of White Blood Cells (WBCs) grow rapidly and surrounds Red Blood Cells (RBCs) and the platelets, resulting in abnormal blood composition. WBCs mostly generated in the bone marrow and some percentage is produced in the lymph nodes spleen, and thymus gland. WBCs play a key role in boosting body’s immune system in safeguarding us from several types of foreign substances, viruses, fungi, bacteria, and atypical cells. In leukemia, irregular division in WBCs starts affecting their normal functions.
Causes and Risk Factors
Studies suggest that blood cancer patients are found to have atypical chromosome, but that is not a direct cause for the leukemia. There are several factors, which can induce leukemia such as
- Chemical exposure
- Radiation exposure
- Genetic disease
- Blood disorder
- Family history of leukemia
The division in white blood cells hampers our immunity significantly as well as vital organs. When these immature cells outnumbers the red blood cells and platelets, oxygen levels in blood drop and decreased platelets no longer facilitate blood clotting, resulting in reduced immunity.
- Some specific strain of viruses such as human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV-1) may induce blood cancer.
- Exposure to radiation such as during cancer radiotherapy treatment could trigger leukemia.
- Exposure to certain chemicals such as benzene that is also used in hair colors and some forms of cleaning agents.
- Some genetic disorders such as Down syndrome in children generate a third copy of chromosome 21, which can increase the risk of leukemia by 2–3%.
- Patients receiving chemotherapy treatment are also at considerable risk of developing blood cancer.
Types of leukemia
Blood cancer can be divided into Acute and Chronic category, which can be further sub-categorized into four major types:
- Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia or ALL normally occurs among children and has a five-year survival rate of about 68% after treatment.
- Acute Myelogenous Leukemia or AML often affects adults as well as young kids. The five-year survival rate for AML after treatment is about 27%.
- Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia or CLL normally occurs among individuals above the age of 55 years. Post treatment, CLL five-year survival rate can be around 83%.
- Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia or CML generally affects adults and its treatment offers five-year survival of around 67%.
Symptoms of Blood Cancer
There are many physical signs and symptoms of blood cancer, while some types of leukemia may damage the internal organs.
Physical signs may comprise:
- Easy bleeding,
- Weight loss,
- Frequent infections,
- Breathing issues,
- Pain in joints or bones,
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Night sweats
Blood cancer can also impact various internal organs including central nervous system, lungs, heart, testes, gastrointestinal tract and kidneys.
Treatment for Blood Cancer
Various treatments available for blood cancer are aimed at eliminating the cancer cells in blood stream.
The treatment for blood cancer depends of several factors such as type of leukemia, therapy suggested by the doctor, overall health and age of the patient, and disease spread to other organs.
Biological therapy or immunotherapy involves usage of drugs to enable the body’s immune system to fight the cancerous cells rather than eliminating them. Sometimes, immunotherapy is used as combination therapy.
Chemotherapy drugs target cancer cells to kill them, but the efficacy of this modality will again depend on the stage of cancer. In early stage cancer chemotherapy results are better.
Targeted Drug Therapy
In targeted drug therapy, specific drugs are designed to alter the proteins, genes and other cells around the cancer site, which aids cancer growth. This modality inhibits the growth of cancer cells with little damage to the healthy cells.
Radiotherapy is used to decrease the tumor size and eliminate caber cells. Sometime, radiations are used with other modalities also such as surgery to increase effectiveness of therapy.
As name suggest, this therapy is used to replace damaged portion of the bone marrow with healthy one. This therapy is often combined with radiation or chemotherapy.
Blood Cancer Treatment Cost in India
India is one of the favorite destinations for affordable cancer treatment due to world class medical facilities, trained oncologists and success rates of the various modalities offered. In India, patients can avail leukemia treatment at around 30-50% lower rates for a specific therapy as compared to other countries. The cost for blood cancer treatment varies depending on the type of leukemia and treatment procedure adopted you can check the cost of blood cancer treatment here.
Besides, a well groomed network of facilitating agencies helps the patient right from initial counseling sessions to selection of best hospitals and doctors to stay arrangements to airport pick and drop management. Above all, availability of experienced oncology specialists and advanced hospital infrastructure within the vicinity of major airports gives and edge to healthcare delivery sector in the country.