Blood Cancer Diagnosis
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Blood cancer diagnosis has various forms. If you are going to undergo a diagnosis you may have certain questions about the methods used.
The Human Blood
Let us first understand a little about the human blood so that we can understand the methods of diagnosis even better. Blood is a fluid that is used to transport important materials to cells. It transports nutrients and oxygen to the all the various parts of the body. It also takes waste products away from the cells. Blood majorly has two groups, red blood cells and the white blood cells. The red blood cells contain hemoglobin, which is the protein that contains iron and transports oxygen through the body. The second group, which is the white blood cells, is required to fight the pathogens or intruders that enter the body and protects the body against infections.
Blood cancer is when cancer affects the blood cells. These blood cells differ in shape and size than normal blood cells. When mutation takes place in a cell, it does not mature and die, instead, it multiplies itself, leading to a large number of mutated cancerous cells. These cells lead to a deficiency of the platelets and a variety of other signs and symptoms of blood cancer. Two types of commonly found blood cancers are leukemia and lymphoma. In leukemia, the cancerous cells are present on the bone marrow. In lymphoma, big amounts of lymphocytes are found at the lymph nodes.
Blood Cancer Diagnosis
If a diagnosis for blood cancer needs to be conducted, the doctor will draw samples of your blood or may request to conduct a biopsy of an affected area. He may also ask for a sample of your urine. From the obtained samples, there are certain things that the doctor or the hematologist will look for.
In a urine sample, the doctor will look for cancerous cells under a microscope. The urine contains epithelial cells. These cells are shed by the urinary tract. He may be able to find cancer cells in the urine if they have been passed through your bladder and in to your urine. This test is known as Urine Cytology. This test is convenient as it is a non invasive form. This can be used for follow ups. The only restriction to this test is that it is unable to detect low- grade cancer and is widely used to detect high - grade tumors.
From the obtained blood sample, the doctor may conduct a Complete Blood Count; this is also referred to as CBC. From the blood sample, the amounts of different types of blood cells are measured. If the doctor finds an excessive number of types of blood cells, or even if he finds that types of blood cells are too little, or if there are abnormal cells, the doctor can then detect blood cancer.
The human blood has various proteins in it, known as globulins. The doctor will run a count of the types of proteins present in the sample of blood. He will collect the blood with the help of a syringe. Then an electrophoresis will be conducted. This will help the doctor detect abnormal immune system proteins, known as immunoglobulins. If a person has multiple myeloma, chances are that the levels of these immunoglobulins may be high. This test is known as Blood Protein Testing/ Electrophoresis or Serum Protein Electrophoresis. The doctor may also perform a bone marrow biopsy.
Laparoscopy is a form of blood cancer surgery useful mainly in blood cancer diagnosis.
Lastly, the doctor may perform a tumor marker test. A tumor marker is a substance that is commonly found in the blood, urine or body tissues. If there is a rise in the quantity of the tumor markers, the presence of cancer can be estimated. However, tumor marker tests are controversial as tumor markers are also produced by normal blood cells. The elevation in the amounts of the tumor markers need not be necessarily due to cancer.
These are the initial methods used for blood cancer diagnosis. Once cancerous cells are found the doctor may want to conduct various other tests to estimate the exact type of cancer and find out the stage of blood cancer in the body. The earlier you detect the cancer, the better it is. If you suspect that you may have blood cancer, speak with your doctor. He will advise you well. Cancer may be a struggle but it can be won over. Do not lose hope. Just because you may be asked for a diagnosis, it does not confirm cancer. Wait for your results. Bon Courage!