Blood cancer can begin in the bone marrow, lymph nodes or blood itself and involves any of the many types of blood cells that circulate throughout the body.
If a doctor suspects a case of blood cancer, he will generally order a complete blood count. In some cases, an unusual pattern of white blood cells indicates the possible presence of blood cancer. If the cancer is advanced, abnormal malignant cells may even be visible in the sample. The doctor may also use X-rays or a physical examination to look for swollen lymph nodes or the presence of tumors in the bone marrow.
Diagnosis of blood cancer may be easy to make, but determining the specific type of blood cancer may be more difficult. After obtaining an accurate diagnosis, the doctor can recommend a specific course of treatment tailored to the patient.
Types of Blood Cancer
There are several different types of blood cancer, and part of the diagnosis process aims to determine which type is present.
Leukeamia, the most common form of blood cancer in children, begins in the bone marrow and affects lymphocytes and granulocytes, two types of white blood cells.
Lymphomas also affect lymphocytes, but these cancers begin in the lymph nodes.
Myeloma affects the plasma cells in the bone marrow, crowding out other red blood cells, white blood cells and plasma.