White Blood Cells Cancer – Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

By on July 25, 2013

White blood cells cancer or lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is a part of your immune system that contains clear fluid called lymph.

Lymph flows through the lymphatic vessels and contains infection-fighting white blood cells known as lymphocytes. So, lymphoma is a type of cancer of the white blood cells that begins in immune-system cells called lymphocytes.

It is similar to leukemia, which is a cancer of the white blood cells in the blood system. White blood cell cancer may grow in many parts of the body such as lymph nodes, bone marrow, spleen, blood and other organs.

There are two types of white blood cells cancer like Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and Non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Both HL and NHL have similar symptoms and can occur in the same places. Their differences are visible at a microscopic level.

It is the most common blood cancer identified in adults and the 3rd most common cancer diagnosed in children.

Causes of white blood cells cancer:

White Blood Cells Cancer
The exact cause of white blood cells cancer is not known, but several factors may increase the risk such as:

  • Age and gender
  • Environmental factors like chemical solvents, herbicides, pesticides, hair dye, etc.
  • Weakened immune system
  • Infections with HIV
  • Coeliac disease
  • Family history
  • Use of immunosuppressive drugs
  • Previous cancer and treatment

Symptoms:

Symptoms of white blood cells cancer (lymphoma) are caused by the increased numbers of abnormal white blood cells, which overcome the normal red blood cells and white blood cells. The most common symptoms include:

  • Painless lumps in your groin and armpits
  • Anemia
  • Fever and chills
  • Pale skin
  • Unexpected weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Night sweats
  • Persistent itching without signs of rash, hives and other reason
  • Trouble breathing and chest pain
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Frequent infections

These symptoms are not sure signs of cancer, but it is important to consult your doctor if any of these symptoms last longer for more than two weeks.

Diagnosis for white blood cells cancer:

Make an appointment with your family doctor as he or she may refer to a doctor who specializes in this diseases. During your initial consultation, your doctor asks several questions about the symptoms, health history, family history, life style, past and recent medical illnesses.

Your doctor also conducts a physical exam to determine the size and condition of your lymph nodes. After an initial appointment and physical examination, your oncologist will suggest for further tests, which help to determine and diagnose.


The tests for white blood cells cancer include:

  • Blood and urine immunoglobulin studies
  • Imaging tests like x-rays, MRI, CT scan, PET scans, etc.
  • Flow cytometry
  • Bone marrow aspiration
  • Biopsy
  • Other tests like lumber puncture, organ function tests, staging and additional blood test that help to determine liver and kidney function.

Treatment:

When all these examinations are completed, your oncologist counsels the patient about the best treatment options. White blood cells cancer treatment depends upon many factors like the type of cancer, stage of the cancer, health status and age.

But the most common white blood cells cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, immunotherapy, bone marrow and stem cell transplant.

Along with these treatments, your oncologist will prescribe some medications. If the cancer is in advanced stage, these treatments help to cure and maximize the quality of life.

After your treatment is over, regular follow-up with your doctor is important. These follow-ups are needed for the first several years after treatment. During these visits, your doctor will ask about symptoms, examine you and may order for some lab tests and imaging tests in order to check out, the signs of cancer and treatment side effects.

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