Blood Cancer Surgery
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Blood cancer surgery is a form of treatment which has been one of the oldest for cancers. Surgeries can be expensive but fruitful too. These are generally used in combination with other cancer therapies. Surgeries can help in diagnosis of blood cancer and in verifying the severity and extent that the cancer has spread.
Blood Cancer Surgery - Types
As mentioned earlier, different types of surgery are required for performing different functions.
Firstly a Bone Marrow aspiration will be conducted. This method is used to diagnose cancers and especially leukemia. Leukemia is a type of blood cancer and is the most common one, especially among children. It affects the bone marrow of the patient. Bone marrow is responsible for the production of healthy blood cell. Leukemia leads to the accumulation of cancerous white blood cells in the bone marrow and hinders with the normal function of the bone marrow. For a bone marrow aspiration, a fine needle biopsy will be conducted. With the help of a thin needle, a small amount of tissue will be extracted from the bone marrow. Before doing this an anesthetic may be administered. The extracted tissue will then be observed under a microscope and accordingly, a cancer may be diagnosed. A biopsy like this can also help doctors determine the stage of blood cancer that the patient is in.
Debulking surgery is another known procedure used for curing advanced stages of lymphoma. Lymphoma is a kind of blood cancer which affects the plasma cells of the blood. The plasma cells play an important role in the immune system. It is responsible for the creation of antibodies. In debulking surgery, the entire malignant tumor is not removed. Instead, a part of the tumor is reduced. This is done in cases where removing the entire tumor could harm to the organ or other vital tissue. The remaining tumor is then treated by various methods such as chemotherapy. Debulking surgery is also referred to as cytoreductive surgery.
Another important surgery for blood cancer patients is known as a stem cell transplant. Bone marrow is responsible for the stem cells. These are different from the stem cells found in the embryo. The stem cells found in the bone marrow develop to form blood cells. Once the blood cells have matured, they begin flowing in the patient's blood stream. As mentioned earlier, leukemia prevents the normal functioning of the bone marrow. The primary function of the bone marrow is production of healthy red blood cells. Due to the cancer (leukemia, lymphoma or multiple myeloma which are all important types of blood cancers) the stem cells get destroyed.
Thus the patient is in need of new stem cells so that his body can start producing new blood cells once again. In a normal treatment, when the patient is under chemotherapy or radiation therapy, they work effectively in destroying the cancer. Sometimes however, they land up destroying the stem cells in the body. In this case a stem cell transplant is required. Before a stem cell transplant is conducted, the patient is put on a suppressive immunotherapy. This is done so that the immune system of the patient does not reject the new harvest of the stem cells.
The actual method of making a transplant depends on finding the most appropriate donor. The donor is generally found in the immediate family member. The first step is extracting the bone marrow from the donor. For this the donor is given anesthesia and several thick needles are placed in the hip bone. This is because the hip (pelvic) bone has an abundance of stem cells. Once this is done, the tissue is extracted with the help of a needle. This is then transferred to the patient in a similar method of blood transfusion. The stem cells make their way on their own into the bone marrow.
In cases of chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML), blood transfusion may be done so that the patient may have some relief and be able to be active through their days. The problem here however is that when the blood cells die, the iron content in them remains. This tends to build up in the body and can become toxic. However, this procedure is also in use.
These are the blood cancer surgeries that are used today. With the help of these surgeries and a combination of other types of treatment, the patient is expected to have higher life expectancy and even be cured in some cases. The advancements made in the study for the cure of cancer today are remarkable leading to happier lives.