Bone Marrow Disease
Bone marrow disease develops in the spongy material in the center of the bones. This spongy material is comprised of stem cells that mature into different blood cells like white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. There are different types of bone marrow cancers that affect the body differently and occur for different reasons. Types of bone marrow cancers include Multiple Myeloma, Myelofibrosis, Myelodysplastic syndromes, Lymphoma, and Leukemia.
Bone marrow disease can be detrimental because marrow’s job is to make blood cells, which are crucial for the body to function. Red blood cells carry oxygen through the body, white blood cells fight infection and platelets help control bleeding with blood clots. When these cells are not produced correctly, the body is affected negatively.
Types of Bone Marrow Cancer
Bone marrow cancers affect the body differently. Multiple Myeloma, Myelofibrosis, Myelodysplastic syndromes, Lymphoma, and Leukemia are all common types of bone marrow cancer that require different treatment options and occur in different ways.
Multiple Myeloma Cancer
Multiple Myeloma cancer is a disease that begins in white blood cells, specifically the plasma cells. Cancer cells accumulate in the bone marrow, crowding healthy blood cells and preventing the production of antibodies. Symptoms of Multiple Myeloma cancer are bone pain, nausea, frequent infections, weakness and numbness in the legs, excessive thirst, nausea, and loss of appetite. Complications associated with this type of bone marrow cancer include reduced kidney function and anemia. Although it is not clear what causes Multiple Myeloma, there are risk factors to be aware of. Factors that increase the risk of Multiple Myeloma are increasing age, male sex, black race, family history and personal history of monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS).
Myelofibrosis (MF) is rare disorder in which abnormal blood cells and fibers build up in the bone marrow. Myelofibrosis is part of a group of diseases called myeloproliferative disorders/neoplasms (MPN), and are characterized for abnormal cells which sometimes harbor mutations in the JAK pathway. The symptoms associated with primary myelofibrosis differ and are associated to a build of abnormal blood cells and fibers in the bone marrow. Affected people may stay symptom-free for many years, and then develop the florid disease. Myelofibrosis can affect anyone; however, it is most frequently diagnosed in people older than 50.
The Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)
The Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) is a term for a group of frequent malignant stem cell diseases, mainly encountered in older individuals. People with MDS have low numbers of red blood cells (anemia), and the cells may have a mutation in their DNA. Overall, MDS is relatively uncommon, with an incidence of between four to five people per a population of 100. However, in patients over the age of 60, this increases to around 20 to 50 incidences per one hundred.
Lymphoma cancer is cancer of the lymphatic system, which includes the lymph nodes, spleen, thymus, and bone marrow. The main types of lymphoma are Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, although there are many types. Lymphoma begins when a lymphocyte, a white blood cell, develops a genetic mutation, causing the cell to multiply rapidly. Having an impaired immune system and developing certain infections like Epstein-Barr virus and Helicobacter pylori infection are risk factors for developing lymphoma cancer. Symptoms of lymphoma may include painless swelling in lymph nodes, persistent fatigue, night sweats, fever, and itchy skin.
Leukemia occurs when bone marrow produces ineffective white blood cells, that do not function according to how they are meant to. There are many different types of leukemia, some of which are more common in children. Some type of leukemia are acute myeloid leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, acute lymphocytic leukemia, and chronic myelogenous leukemia. Acute and chronic refer to how fast the leukemia progresses, and lymphocytic and myelogenous refer to the type of white blood cell that is affected. Leukemia can be treated with chemotherapy, biological therapy, targeted therapy, radiation therapy, a stem cell transplant, and clinical trials.
Bone Marrow Cancer Diagnosis
Bone marrow cancer is diagnosed if a patient comes in with concerns about symptoms or any abnormalities. Doctors will check bone marrow to see if there are normal amounts of blood cells using either aspiration or biopsy. Aspiration is when a small amount of bone marrow fluid is taken with a needle. A biopsy is removal of a small piece of marrow with a larger needle.
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