What is blood cancer?
“Blood cancer is a very broad diagnostic entity, but when you think of blood cancers, you’re typically thinking leukemia, lymphoma, and any span across many different sub-types [like multiple myeloma],” says Sean Fischer, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center and Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medical Oncology at John Wayne Cancer Institute in Santa Monica, California. Lymphoma occurs when cancerous cells are found in the lymphatic system. Leukemia originates in the bone marrow when the body creates an excess of abnormal white blood cells, which then interfere with the bone marrow’s production of red blood cells and platelets. In the case of multiple myeloma, cancer starts in the blood’s plasma cells, a certain type of white blood cell found in the bone marrow. Because blood cancer symptoms come on gradually, they are all too easy to ignore or overlook. These are the most common ones.