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Blood Cancers: New Treatments Mean More Survivors, New Support Needs

By HERWriter Guide
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Your chances of dying from a blood cancer are going down. There are now nearly one million blood cancer survivors among the 12 million cancer survivors in the United States, a sign of the remarkable progress that’s being made in treatment. These include the leukemias, lymphoma, myeloma and myelodysplastic syndromes - all cancers that originate in the bone marrow or lymphatic tissues.

According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS), they’re considered related cancers because all involve the uncontrolled growth of cells with similar functions and origins. The diseases result from an acquired genetic injury to the DNA of a single cell, which becomes abnormal (malignant) and multiplies continuously. The accumulation of malignant cells interferes with the body's production of healthy blood cells.

Survival improvement rates are due to improved therapies, new forms of treatment and the advent of stem cell transplantation. While the figures vary, clinical reports today show that more than 75 percent of children with acute leukemia and nearly 80 percent of patients with Hodgkin's lymphoma are being cured today. Even patients with diseases resistant to treatment, such as myeloma, are benefiting from new drugs that are increasing the rate and duration of remissions.

While the advances in treatment and improved survival rates are welcome changes, not all trends are positive, according to the National Cancer Institute. While the Cancer Trends Progress Report 2009-2010 Update shows that new incidences of many types of cancer are doing down, leukemia and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma are among the small subset of cancers with the fastest increased incidence rates.

Every four minutes one person is diagnosed with a blood cancer and an estimated 137,260 people in the United States will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2010. New cases of leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma will account for nine percent of the 1,529,560 new cancer cases diagnosed in the United States this year. (Leukemia, Lymphoma, Myeloma Facts 2010-2011, LLS)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.