Is Bone Marrow Cancer curable? What are the treatments?

What is a Cancer?

Cancer, as we know, is the abnormal proliferation of certain cells of the body which goes out of control. Cancer can develop practically in all parts of the body.

There are two types of cancerous lesions that are found in the human body.

These are:

Benign Cancer: It is the less dangerous one (unless it is impinging on surrounding tissues) as it doesn’t spread to other organs.

Malignant Cancer: It is the problematic one as it can rapidly spread to other tissues and can even cause a variety of other problems.

What is Bone Marrow Cancer?

Bone Marrow is the soft gelatinous substance present inside the bones. It is kind of like the manufacturing unit for production of blood cells in the body. It consists of many types of precursor blood cells, stem cells, mature cells etc.

It is actually the abnormal multiplication of any of these cells inside the bone marrow. Since the bone marrow has a direct connection with the blood supply, it can easily spread to other parts of the body.

What are the symptoms of Bone Marrow Cancer?

Any cancer for that matter does not have serious direct consequences. They usually create a problem with normal functioning of the body. in bone marrow cancer, the production of normal blood cells is hampered, or there is drastic increase in one type of the cell. As a result, the number and functioning of other cells are affected.

The following are the symptoms associated with it:

  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Increase the frequency of infections
  • Immune-compromised state
  • Body pain
  • Bone weakness and frequent fractures
  • Kidney damage

What are the types of Bone Marrow Cancer?

The type of bone marrow cancer depends upon the type of the cell involved.

The types of cells are:

  • The red blood cells
  • The Platelets
  • The White blood cells which include lymphocytes, plasma cells, leukocytes etc.

Let us find out about some of the common types of bone marrow cancer.

Multiple Myeloma:
It is characterized by the excessive proliferation of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells play a key role in forming antibodies against the various types of infections.

This is characterized by a rapid increase in the number of white blood cells. This increase in the number of cells can be rapid (acute- ALL, AML) or slow-growing (chronic- CML, CLL).

This is the cancer of the lymphatic system. These can occur in many parts of the body.

This is of further two types: Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

How is Bone Marrow Cancer diagnosed?

A doctor can make a number of diagnoses based on the symptoms that patients present with. The doctor can order various tests such as complete blood counts (CBCs), and certain imaging tests. Blood tests help to evaluate the blood counts, kidney function, and electrolyte levels. The imaging tests such as the MRI scan, CT scan or PET scan helps the doctor to evaluate the spread of the bone marrow cancer.

Another important technique to determine the type, severity and the spread of bone marrow cancer is the bone marrow biopsy. It is a confirmatory test for all the types of bone marrow cancers and blood disorders. The aspirated bone marrow is looked by a specialist under a microscope to get a clear picture of what is going on and plan treatment accordingly.

How is Bone Marrow Cancer treated?

The treatment of this cancer is very customizable according to each specific cancer. After the doctor determines the type, spread and the grade of cancer, an oncologist can design a specific course of treatment for a patient.

The two most common mode of treatment is Radiation therapy and Chemotherapy.

These can be used alone or along with each other as a part of adjuvant therapy. Both of these treatments are aimed at killing the cancer cells or stopping them from multiplying. The drugs may have targeted action on some kind of cancer cells.

For example, Imatinib (Gleevec) is a drug which is effective mainly for CML (a type of bone marrow cancer)

Patients generally start to lack the number of healthy blood cells required to perform normal day to body functions either due to bone marrow cancer treatment or due to the disease itself.

In such patients, physicians recommend a bone marrow transplant. it is a highly specialized procedure in which the healthy bone marrow is transferred into the deceased individual to take over the normal functions.

It is of three types: Allogenic, Autologous, and Syngeneic. 


About BloodCancerCure:

BloodCancerCure is the world’s first such organization working 24*7 on helping blood cancer patients. BloodCancerCure works for patients across the world by providing the lowest cost for bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and Bone marrow test. You can contact at +91-8448533753 to talk to our experts at BloodCancerCure for BMT treatment in India.

How painful is bone marrow biopsy?

What is a Biopsy?

Let us start with the most basic question: what is a biopsy? “Biopsy” is a type of invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedure which involves the extraction of cells or tissues or a suspected mass from the body to examine it under the microscope. It is the most reliable way to confirm the diagnosis, type, and extent of cancer in the body.

What is Bone Marrow Biopsy?

Let us now come to the main topic. Bone marrow biopsy is an evaluation procedure in which the marrow tissue is obtained to be studied under the microscope. It is done to evaluate the different types of blood cells and the structure of the marrow.

Doctors advise a bone marrow biopsy when they find the discrepancy in the levels of WBCs or RBCs or platelets in the blood. It gives them a fair idea of the reason for this kind of discrepancy. A bone marrow biopsy has proven to be an effective diagnostic tool for various kinds of marrow and other blood cell-related disorders.

Why is the Bone Marrow Biopsy done?

Due to the reliability and sensitivity of the test, a bone marrow biopsy is considered to be a “gold standard” test for diagnosing and confirming any marrow related disorder. There are several conditions for which it is indicated. Mostly, it is used in diagnosing and determining the various types of blood cancers such as the Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML), Multiple Myeloma, Lymphomas (both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s) etc. Also, it is done to find out the cause of severe persistent anemia, pancytopenia (decrease in the number of all three types of blood cells, namely, red cells, white cells, and platelets) or abnormal count of any of the three blood cells.

Marrow biopsy can sometimes prove useful to “evaluate a fever of unknown origin”, or to investigate abnormal bleeding or clotting times, to identify rare genetic diseases and some stem cell disorders and to monitor the iron overload conditions.

How is Bone Marrow Biopsy done?

Bone marrow biopsy is a fairly regular procedure with very fewer side-effects. The most commonly used sites for obtaining the marrow are the large pelvic bone near the hip (posterior iliac crest) and breastbone (sternum). In kids, marrow is generally taken from the shin bone (tibia).

The actual procedure of the bone marrow biopsy consists of two parts: the marrow aspiration (which obtains the sample of the liquid portion of the marrow) and the bone marrow biopsy (which is concerned with obtaining the solid portion). The biopsy can be performed in a hospital setting or a pathologic lab by the trained personnel.

The patient is made to lie on the side or on their back and then the area is numbed with a local anesthetic agent. The doctor inserts the needle and at this time the patient may experience sharp pain. The needle goes into the bone and extracts the bone marrow. The site is bandaged and the patient is good to go.

What needs to be kept in mind while undergoing the Bone Marrow Biopsy?

The patient should give a detailed and clear medical history to the doctor before getting started with the procedure. This should include any medications or allergies, any history of bleeding disorders, pregnancy status, or anxiety issues.

The patient should be calm and composed during the procedure. All the doubts or issue the patient might have should be taken care off by the physician in a satisfactory manner.

What are the risks associated with the Bone Marrow Biopsy?

As we already stated, bone marrow biopsy is a simple procedure. It can be performed without any difficulty with the help of a well-trained staff. But as we know nothing in this world is risk-free. It is reported that less than 1% of patients have suffered from some kind of complications with bone marrow biopsy.

Some of the common problems associated with the procedure are the allergy to anesthesia, infections or chronic pain. The major risks are haemorrhaging or excessive bleeding.

We believe we should address the particular side-effect of the procedure: “the chronic pain”. Ideally, on an average pain related to the procedure is short-lived. According to some studies, the duration of pain is said to be associated with the duration of and difficulty during the procedure.

A reduced level of anxiety and increased awareness of the procedure goes a long way in improving the outcomes.  

About BloodCancerCure:

BloodCancerCure is the world’s first such organization working 24*7 on helping blood cancer patients. BloodCancerCure works for patients across the world by providing the lowest cost for bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy, and Bone marrow test. You can contact at +91-8448533753 to talk to our experts at BloodCancerCure for BMT treatment in India.