Haematological cancer describes a group of cancers that primarily arise from cells found in the bone marrow that are involved in blood forming and immune system processes.
Haematological cancer groups include:
- Leukaemia (ALL, AML, CML, CLL)
- Lymphoma (Hodgkins & Non Hodgkins)
- Multiple myeloma and immunoproliferative neoplasms
- Myelodysplastic syndrome and myeloproliferative disease (pre malignant disorders)
The cause of most haematological cancer is not yet known, however some known risk factors include:
- Chemical exposure (benzene)
- Viral infections
- Genetic predisposition (Down's syndrome)
It should be emphasised that for most patients there is no identifiable cause.
The symptoms of haematological cancer can be many and varied. Such symptoms may include unusual bleeding or infection, fatigue, shortness of breath, bone pain, enlargement of lymph glands, weight loss, night sweats and generally feeling unwell or run down. Such varied and non-specific symptoms may occur in a number of illnesses and are not necessarily associated with haematological cancer. If you are concerned, please consult your doctor.
Treatment for haematological cancer can consists of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy or a combination approach. In some more advanced conditions, a bone marrow/ stem cell transplant may be advised. The type of treatment recommended largely depends on the type and stage of haematological cancer diagnosed and your general health.
External Beam Radiation Therapy for Haematological Cancer
External beam radiation therapy is often used after chemotherapy / immunotherapy to treat both Hodgkins and non Hodgkins lymphoma. Typically this involves administering radiation to enlarged affected lymph nodes and to any areas nearby where residual disease is suspected.
It may also be used to manage symptoms such as pain or breathlessness for advanced disease.
In the case of multiple myeloma external beam radiation therapy may be applied to manage symptomatic areas of bone disease. This is also a common application of treatment for solitary plasmacytomas.
For certain haematological cancers and pre-malignant disorders radiation therapy may be used in a specialised role to perform bone marrow / stem cell transplantation where whole body radiation is administered prior to transplant to obliterate all malignant cells.
External beam radiation therapy services for haematological cancers, excluding specialist application for bone marrow / stem cell transplantation are available at all Genesis CancerCare Queensland centres.
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