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Blood Cancer: Raising Awareness in India and the Vital Role of Oncologists

Blood Cancer: Raising Awareness in India and the Vital Role of Oncologists

Introduction to Blood cancer

Blood cancers, including leukaemia, lymphoma, and myeloma, account for about 10% of new cancer cases diagnosed worldwide each year. In India, the incidence of blood cancer is lower than in Western nations but is on the rise. With September designated as Blood Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to spread information on risk factors, symptoms, and the newest treatments in major medical hubs like Mumbai. Medical Oncologist in Mumbai hospitals and clinics play a critical role in treating blood cancer patients and conducting research to improve care.

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Understanding Blood Cancers

Instead of solid tumours found in many common cancers, blood cancers affect the cells that make up the blood and bone marrow. This includes lymphoid stem cells that develop into white blood cells, and myeloid stem cells that become red blood cells, platelets, and immune cells. When these cells mutate and grow uncontrollably, it leads to leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and related diseases.

  • Leukaemia starts in the white blood cells. It is categorized as acute or chronic, affecting the type of early blood cells involved. Common symptoms are fatigue, weight loss, easy bleeding or bruising, and frequent infections.
  • Lymphoma begins in lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell in the lymphatic system. It is divided into Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Painless lymph node swelling is characteristic.
  • Myeloma originates in plasma cells. It causes bone pain, kidney failure, fatigue and recurrent infections.
  • Other rarer cancers include myelodysplastic syndromes, myeloproliferative disorders, and myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative neoplasms.

While some risk factors like exposure to chemicals such as benzene are known, the causes of most blood cancers remain unknown. Family history, previous chemotherapy, smoking, and radiation exposure can increase risk.

Symptoms of Blood Cancer

Being aware of the common signs of blood cancers allows for early intervention. Symptoms to look out for include:

  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Frequent infections
  • Fevers or chills that won’t go away
  • Easy bruising or bleeding
  • Bone pain
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Shortness of breath

If these symptoms persist, immediate medical evaluation is recommended. Early detection and treatment provides the best outcomes.

Critical Role of Oncologists

Oncologists are doctors who specialize in diagnosing and treating cancer. In India, oncologists experienced in blood cancers can be found in major hospitals and private clinics. Their vital role includes:

  • Diagnosing cancer – ordering blood tests, bone marrow biopsies and imaging tests to determine the type and stage of blood cancer.
  • Deciding on optimal treatment – choosing the right chemotherapy drugs, targeted therapies, bone marrow transplants, radiation or immunotherapy.
  • Providing treatment – prescribing chemotherapy drugs, delivering radiation therapy, performing transplants, and administering immunotherapy drugs.
  • Monitoring during treatment – adjusting therapies based on the response, and managing side effects.
  • Coordinating care – working with other specialists, nurses, social workers, nutritionists etc. to provide comprehensive care.
  • Conducting checkups after treatment – tracking recovery, and watching for recurrence with regular monitoring.
  • Guiding supportive care – managing pain, infections, anaemia and other issues impacting quality of life.
  • Discussing clinical trials – advising on experimental therapies being studied to improve outcomes.
  • Supporting families – answering questions, explaining treatment options, and providing resources.

Finding the Right Oncologist

Seeking out a haematologist-oncologist with specialized training in blood cancers is advised. At leading Indian hospitals like HCG  Hospital Bangalore, Mazumdar-Shaw Cancer Center, and Manipal Hospital, dedicated blood cancer treatment centres provide comprehensive care.

When looking for an oncologist, find one who:

  • Is board-certified in haematology as well as oncology
  • Has extensive experience treating your specific blood cancer
  • Is affiliated with a major cancer treatment hospital
  • Keeps updated on newest targeted therapies and immunotherapies
  • Has excellent communication and listening skills
  • Answers all your questions thoroughly and compassionately

Dealing with cancer is difficult, but finding an oncologist you can trust and relate to makes the journey less daunting. Seeking second opinions is also advised.

Awareness about Blood Cancer

This Blood Cancer Awareness Month, get involved by:

  • Learning about warning signs, risk factors and screening tests
  • Attending free community blood drives and cancer education events
  • Joining support groups to share experiences and information
  • Donating funds to organizations that provide patient services and conduct blood cancer research
  • Volunteering with local charities to help cancer patients in need

Conclusion

Knowledge is power when it comes to identifying blood cancers promptly and receiving optimal treatment. Oncologists in India are working hard to provide world-class care to patients as research continues to uncover new lifesaving therapies. Increased public awareness and active participation in the cause will help win the fight against blood cancers. Read more

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