There are many types of blood cancers including the most common: myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs). This blood cancer contains a unique arrangement in the production of abnormally growing blood cell clusters. MPNs get worse as time goes on. They are present in every age group but mostly in patients more than 60 years old. Changes in a patient’s genetic makeup are believed to cause the majority of cases.
Research has recently revealed that elevated levels of a protein, named MYC, can affect the development and progression of blood cancers. Certain levels of this protein may result in better treatment for blood cancers. Further research may also result in the ability to prevent these cancers.
Blood cancers with elevated MYC may be avoided by decreasing the prevalence of a different protein, called MCL-1. Some research suggests that the generation of cancer foci with MCL-1 (a chemical that enables cells to grow while preventing target cell demise) may decrease the symptoms of MYC.Research has found that MCL-1 may be crucial in continued cancer progression when stressful events cause healthy cells to turn into cancerous cells.
Polycythemia vera (PV) is another blood cancer where bone marrow dangerously increases red blood cells, white cells, and platelets. However, PV is most seen in red blood cell proliferation. People are not born with PV. Research has shown that 81 mg aspirin added to a patient’s already established healthcare regimen for prevention of some types of heart disease may be the initial treatment of PV and its symptoms. Hydroxyurea and busulfan are normally used in the treatment of many types of cancer to inhibit the amount of red blood cell involvement and decrease the thickness of blood. Interferon alpha may cause the immune system to shut down overactive marrow cells and normalize blood flow. Radiation is another treatment modality for PV but not used a great deal due to side effects of leukemia and other diseases affecting the vascular system. One direction of research studies focusses on the genetic mutations that make up PV. This may be a more efficacious treatment for some people.
Treatment of blood cancers can result in a variety of complications including:
- If the patient starts a gradually increasing exercise program, this could lead to stimulating increased blood flow. Patients going through multiple blood draws often feel exhausted enough to try iron supplements. However, an increase in protein in the blood causes bone marrow to increase red cell production and is not recommended.
- This condition involves symptoms of joint swelling and pain in the big toe. Allopurinol is a common treatment to prevent the return of gouty attacks.
- Normal moisturizing skin care may help with this problem. The patient may be directed to consult a medical professional if over-the-counter skin treatments don’t help.
Blood cancers have proven elusive in terms of development of a cure or prevention. If no current treatment has proven to be effective, the patient may think about participating in various clinical trials performed in many teaching hospitals throughout the country.