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World Blood Cancer Day: 7 early warning signs of blood cancer you should know about

Blood cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the bone marrow, where blood is produced. It affects the way your blood cells function. There are three main types of blood cancer namely leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and in most blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. Symptoms of blood cancer include fever, chills, fatigue, weakness, weight loss, anaemia, joint pain among others. Early detection can help in effective treatment. Chemotherapy, radiation, stem cell transplant, surgery, immunotherapy are some of the treatment techniques. World Blood Cancer Day is celebrated every year on May 28 to show support for people with blood cancer and raise awareness around its symptoms and treatment. 

"Blood cancer is a cancer of the blood-forming tissues, hindering the body's ability to fight infection. It is an exceptionally grave and potentially life-threatening illness that disrupts the normal production and functioning of blood cells within the body. The scale of this issue is staggering, as evidenced by the latest GLOBOCAN data, which estimates 1.3 million new cases of blood cancer were reported worldwide in 2020 alone," says Dr Niti Krishna Raizada, Senior Director Medical – Oncology and Haemato-Oncology, Fortis Hospitals, Bangalore in an interview with HT Digital.

In order to combat this formidable adversary, it is imperative to be vigilant in identifying the early warning signs that can potentially save lives through timely diagnosis and prompt intervention


1. Unexplained weight loss

Significant and unintentional weight loss, occurring without any changes in diet or exercise, can be an alarming indication of blood cancer. It is crucial to seek medical attention if you experience substantial and unexplained weight loss.

2. Bone and joint discomfort

Persistent and unexplained pain in the bones or joints, especially in the back or hips, should not be ignored. It is important to consult a healthcare professional if you experience ongoing discomfort in these areas.

3. Persistent fatigue

Feeling excessively tired, weak, or exhausted on a regular basis, even after getting adequate rest, could be a sign of blood cancer. It is essential to take persistent fatigue seriously, as it is one of the most common early warning signs.

4. Easy bruising and excessive bleeding

Noticing bruises that appear without a clear cause or experiencing prolonged bleeding from minor cuts can indicate disrupted clotting, potentially linked to blood cancer. If you encounter unexplained bruises or persistent bleeding, seeking evaluation is crucial.

5. Shortness of breath

Difficulty breathing or experiencing breathlessness during normal activities may be a symptom of blood cancer. If you frequently struggle to catch your breath or encounter chest discomfort, it is important to seek prompt medical attention.

6. Frequent infections

Blood cancer weakens the immune system, making you more susceptible to infections. If you find yourself frequently dealing with infections such as respiratory or urinary tract infections, it could be an indication of an underlying blood cancer.

7. Enlarged lymph nodes

Swollen lymph nodes, particularly in the neck, armpits, or groin, can be a potential sign of blood cancer. If you have persistent swelling or tenderness in these areas, consulting a healthcare professional is important.

"By being aware of these warning signs, people can take proactive steps to seek medical attention and potentially save lives. Remember, timely diagnosis and effective treatment can make a profound difference in combating blood cancer and improving outcomes," concludes Dr Raizada.

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