Blood cancer is a broad term for many cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system, and the cancerous cells that develop into red and white blood cells and platelets. This cancer alters the blood cells making them unable to perform normal functions like resisting infection or clotting to prevent excessive bleeding.
If your blood cancer has been mishandled by a health care provider, contact our offices today for a free consultation and learn more about you legal options.
Types of Blood Cancer
There are four main types of blood cancers. They are:
Leukemia is a cancer that originates in the body's blood-forming tissues. Leukemia causes the rapid creation of abnormal white blood cells. It prevents the body's bone marrow from producing red blood cells and platelets.
Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that originates in the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is the body's mechanism for fighting disease and regulates white blood cells.
Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer that also develops in the lymphatic system, but from different cells. It differs from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the way it grows and spreads.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that begins in the white blood cells called plasma cells which help the body fight infection. Myeloma inhibits the healthy production of antibodies necessary to maintain a health immune system.
Blood Cancer Statistics
- Every four minutes someone is diagnosed with blood cancer in the United States.
- There will be an expected 201,870 new cases in 2015.
- An estimated 1,185,053 people in the United States are currently living with blood cancer.
- An estimated 162,020 people are expected to be diagnosed with blood cancer in 2015, which accounts for 9.8% of all new cancer diagnoses.
- Hodgkin's and non-Hodgkin's combined are the most prevalent form of blood cancer, with over 761,659 cases in America.
- Leukemia is ten timesmore common in children and people under the age of 20 than in adults. It is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in people under the age of 20.
Symptoms and Risk Factors
There is no current way of screening for blood cancer, and doctors do not understand why blood cancer develops. But doctors can help the prognosis of patients by knowing the risk factors so they can be ready to order necessary diagnostic tests when needed. Risk factors include:
- Exposure to radiation, possibly because of previous cancer treatment
- Having an autoimmune disease like HIV or AIDS
- Certain genetic disorders like Down syndrome
- Exposure to certain chemicals like benzene, a chemical used in gasoline cigarettes, and some plastics and synthetic materials
- Personal or family history of cancer
Symptoms of blood cancer will differ based on the type and location of the cancer, and many of the symptoms may be associated with other medical conditions. Doctors should use sound judgment in deciding whether a patient's risk factors and symptoms could be the result of blood cancer. Symptoms may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Fatigue and weakness
- Swollen stomach
- Bone and joint pain
- Fever and night sweats
- Abdominal discomfort
- Shortness of breath
- Frequent infections
- Itchy skin or skin rash
- Frequent broken bones, especially in the back
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms, groin
- Chest pain
- Weight loss
Diagnosing Blood Cancer
If blood cancer is suspected, your doctor will need to perform diagnostic screenings and tests to determine the type of blood cancer and the stage of the cancer. Blood cancer has high survival rates (ranging from 60% to over 90% based on the type of cancer) if caught early. So it is important for your doctor to begin screening and testing as soon as possible.
Blood Cancer Treatment
Blood cancer treatments depend on the type of cancer involved. They may include:
- Chemotherapy or the use of drugs to destroy cancer cells
- Radiation therapy or the use of radiation to destroy cancer cells
- Stem cell transplants to introduce new healthy blood into the body
Malpractice in Blood Cancer
If your doctor's negligence in diagnosing and treating blood cancer has resulted in serious harm, you may be eligible for compensation. Sometimes blood cancers do not appear in blood samples until the disease has progressed, but doctors should know the warning signs, and know when to order additional tests to make sure they provide their patients with the best possible diagnosis.
A failed, missed, or delayed diagnosis of blood cancer allows a patient's condition to worsen and to even become fatal. Early treatment is essential.
If your blood cancer has been mishandled by a health care provider, contact the offices of Gilman & Bedigian today to learn more about your legal options.