Blood is the connective tissue that contains a lot of cells and factors that help nourish all the cells of the body. The main components of blood are red blood cells (RBCs) that have the function of carrying oxygen bound to haemoglobin, white blood cells (WBCs) that have the function of fighting the infections and platelets that are responsible for the formation of blood clots. The other constituents are multiple factors of the immune system and healing factors. The white blood cells are further divided into different kinds of cells depending on their morphology and specific function. 

The most important disorders of the white cells clinically are the malignancies (cancers). These basically fall into 3 categories:

  • Lymphoid neoplasms which include diverse group of tumors of B-cell, T-cell and NK-cell origin. 
  • Myeloid neoplasms are the ones that arise from the cells of the progenitors of all the blood cells.


These neoplasms are further subdivided into 3 categories:

  • Acute myeloid leukemias which are characterized by the accumulation of immature progenitor cells in the bone marrow
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes which are associated with ineffective hematopoiesis and resultant peripheral blood cytopenia, and Myeloproliferative neoplasms which are characterized by the increase in the production of one or more terminally differentiated myeloid elements leading to elevated peripheral blood counts
  • The uncommon proliferative lesions of macrophages and dendritic cells called histiocytosis
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Frequently asked questions about Blood Related Cancers

What are the types of blood cancers?

The most important disorders of the white cells in the blood clinically are the malignancies (cancers). These basically fall into 3 categories:

  • Lymphoid neoplasms which include diverse group of tumors of B-cell, T-cell and NK-cell origin. 
  • Myeloid neoplasms are the ones that arise from the cells of the progenitors of all the blood cells. These neoplasms are further subdivided into 3 categories:
  • Acute myeloid leukemias which are characterized by the accumulation of immature progenitor cells in the bone marrow
  • Myelodysplastic syndromes which are associated with ineffective hematopoiesis and resultant peripheral blood cytopenias, and
  • Myeloproliferative neoplasms which are characterized by the increase in the production of one or more terminally differentiated myeloid elements leading to elevated peripheral blood counts
  • The uncommon proliferative lesions of macrophages and dendritic cells called histiocytoses.
What happens if you have blood cancer?

Because of the presence of blood cancer, the cells involved will not be able to perform normally and hence may cause the typical symptoms of leucocytosis or leukopenia. There may be disorders of hemostasis, low platelet counts and the presence of non-identifiable infections. The blood cell counts will fluctuate with sometimes the lymphocytes being in an abnormally high range. Fatigue and weight loss might be present because of anorexia. Some cancers may cause splenomegaly (enlarged spleen) or hepatomegaly (enlarged liver) and have associated abdominal pain. Lymphadenopathy might accompany in many cancers. 

Is blood cancer curable?

Depending on the type and the stage of cancer, the prognosis can be decided. Some of the cancers are completely curable with 100% remission rates if diagnosed at an early stage like Burkitt’s lymphoma. Some of the cancers might not be curable but their symptoms might be managed by drugs and hence the quality of life of the patient might be improved.

What causes blood cancers?
The causes are usually idiopathic that is not known. Some cancers may have genetic predisposition while others may be caused by previous treatments by some drugs, radiations or by the presence of some other blood disorders.
Which blood cancer is not curable?

Usually the cancers that are chronic in nature and diagnosed at later stages are not curable. However, the symptoms can be managed and the quality of life of the patient might be improved.

Are blood cancers hereditary?

Blood cancers do have a genetic predisposition and may be hereditary. Individuals having family members affected should routinely do blood count tests so that the presence of any abnormality can be detected at an early stage and treated accordingly.

How many stages are there in blood cancer?

Doctors combine the T, N, M results and other factors specific to the cancer to determine the stage of cancer for each person. Most types of cancer have four stages: stages I (1) to IV (4).

What is the treatment for Blood cancer?

The primary objective of blood cancer treatment is the complete eradication of cancer. Several therapies are provided by blood cancer hospitals in India for this disease. A few of them are as follows-

  • Biological therapy and immunotherapy which uses monoclonal antibodies
  • Chemotherapy. This can be also used along with radiation
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation - This is typically a procedure to replace damaged or destroyed bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells. 
What is the prognosis for blood cancer?

The prognosis of any cancer depends on the stage at which it is diagnosed and the overall response of the patient to the therapy. Blood cancers are, however, easier to treat than other solid tumors.

What are the signs of blood cancer?

The signs and symptoms of blood cancers depend on the type of blood cancer. The common findings are:

  • Anemia, leucocytosis and leukopenia
  • Fatigue and weight loss
  • Fever with or without an identifiable infection
  • Bleeding or easy bruising
  • Bone pain
  • Lymphadenopathy
  • Nonspecific cough
  • Headache
  • Anorexia (no hunger)
  • Abdominal pain or splenomegaly
  • Hepatomegaly
  • Ascites
  • Several years of eczematous or dermatic skin lesions

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Many different types of blood cancers occur and if diagnosed at an early stage, can be easily cured with excellent rates of remission. These are mostly non-solid tumors. The main types of cancers that occur are:

  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Acute lymphoid leukemia
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma


The rare neoplasms that occur are:

  • Primary myelofibrosis
  • Essential thrombocytosis (shows predominance in women)
  • B-cell prolymphocytic leukemia (B-PLL)
  • Splenic marginal zone lymphoma
  • Hairy cell leukemia
  • Nodal marginal zone B-cell lymphoma
  • Mediastinal (thymic) large B-cell lymphoma
  • Intravascular large B-cell lymphoma
  • Primary effusion lymphoma
  • Lymphomatoidgranulomatosis
  • T-Cell ProlymphocyticLeukemia 
  • T-Cell Large Granular Lymphocytic Leukemia 
  • Aggressive NK Cell Leukemia
  • Extranodal NK/T-Cell Lymphoma, Nasal Type 
  • Enteropathy-Type T-Cell Lymphoma 
  • Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma 
  • Subcutaneous Panniculitis-Like T-Cell Lymphoma 
  • Blastic NK Cell Lymphoma 
  • Primary Cutaneous CD30+ T-Cell Lymphoma 
  • Angioimmunoblastic T-Cell Lymphoma
  • Chronic neutrophilic leukemia
  • Atypical chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia
  • Juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia
  • MDS/MPN, unclassifiable (MDS/MPN-U)
  • MDS/MPNwith ring sideroblasts and thrombocytosis (MDS/MPN-RS-T)
  • Myeloproliferative neoplasm, unclassifiable (MPN-U)
  • Myeloid neoplasms with germ line predisposition
  • Transient myeloproliferative disorder
  • Primary eosinophilia
  • Mastocytosis
  • Dendritic and histiocytic neoplasms
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