Blood cancer: Symptoms explained by healthcare professionals
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Warning signs of cancer can be misleading because they are rarely a clear reflection of the disease. In the case of blood cancer, the most noticeable symptoms tend to show under the surface of the skin. One expert explains that in some cases the disease may react to hot water, causing a reaction after taking a shower.
Blood cancer UK states that common symptoms of blood cancer include:
- Weight loss that is unexplained
- Bruising or bleeding that is unexplained
- Lumps and swelling
- Shortness of breath
- Drenching night sweats.
Another sign of the disease listed by various health bodies, including the Mayo Clinic, is itchiness.
Some experts believe that itchiness may be caused specifically by polycythemia vera, a type of blood cancer that causes bone marrow to make too many red blood cells.
According to the Mayo Clinic, these excess cells thicken the blood, hampering its flow around the body.
Although rare, this may eventually cause serious problems which could result in abnormal clotting in the blood.
According to Eugene Ahn, a haematologist and oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centres of America (CTCA), “itching after a hot shower” could signal “a type of blood cancer”.
He explained on the health platform BottomLineInc that: “In the early stages of this cancer, histamine-containing mast cells (cells behind allergic reactions) become hypersensitive, causing the skin to react to hot water.
“If you’re over age 40 (when this cancer most commonly occurs), ask your doctor for a complete blood count (CBC), which will detect an elevation of red blood cells, a feature of polycythemia vera.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, doctors sometimes prescribe medication if the itching becomes bothersome, including antihistamines, and ultraviolet light treatment.
The health body adds that medication normally used to treat depression has also been found effective to relieve itching in clinical trials.
How is the blood cancer diagnosed?
The condition is often picked up by tests aimed at counting the amount of space the red blood cells take up in the blood.
Doctors will also diagnose the disease based on the signs and symptoms, age, overall health, and medical history.
The main signs health practitioners look for during examination are an enlarged spleen, red skin on the face and bleeding from the gums.
As the disease causes blood to thicken, the NHS explains this may also cause:
High blood pressure.
How to prevent blood cancer
There is no surefire way to prevent cancer, but avoiding exposure to toxic elements may lower your odds of the disease.
According to the health body Orlando Health, you should “avoid exposure to radiation, chemicals such as pesticides or benzene”.As with all types of cancer, smoking or exposure to tobacco in all its forms should be avoided.
Adhering to a healthy diet can also help reduce the risk of developing cancer by reducing oxidative stress in the body.
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