Blood cancer isn’t just one condition, but rather several different malignancies that can be categorized as leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma. Each sub-type affects the blood and the rest of the body in different ways, but most start in the bone marrow, where the different components that make up the blood are created. If the body begins producing abnormal versions of red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets, it can lead to cancer. The major forms of blood cancer include:
- Leukemia, which is spurred by the generation of abnormal white blood cells that can’t fight off infection like healthy white blood cells can. These cells also multiply abnormally. As the number of malformed white blood cells increases, it can interfere with the bone marrow’s ability to create other necessary blood components, such as platelets and red blood cells.
- Lymphoma, a blood disease that affects the lymphatic system, which helps the body process excess fluids and circulates immune system cells throughout the body. Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell that fights off infection; much like leukemia, the path to lymphoma starts when the lymphoid organs (bone marrow and thymus gland) produce abnormal lymphocytes. These abnormal cells can become cancerous, collect in the lymph nodes and surrounding tissues, and eventually impair the function of the immune system.
- Myeloma, which is a blood cancer that affects another type of white blood cells called plasma cells. These cells create antibodies that fight off infection and disease within the body, but the abnormal plasma cells generated in myeloma don’t produce effective antibodies. Instead, they can collect in the bone marrow, where the cancer cells generate harmful blood proteins rather than protective antibodies.
Tampa General Hospital has the resources necessary to diagnose, evaluate, and treat all types of blood cancer. Our hematology/oncology program can address all types of cancers and related blood cancer symptoms, and the specialists in our clinic specifically treat patients with blood cancers and benign blood disorders. Tampa General Hospital is ranked as a High Performing Hospital for Leukemia, Lymphoma and Myeloma treatment by U.S. News & World Report 2023-24.