Learn all about bone marrow cancer symptoms, stages, prognosis and treatment. Bone is the supporting framework of your body. Most bones are hollow. The outer part of bones is a network of fibrous tissue called matrix onto which calcium salts are laid down.
Bone itself is very hard and strong. In some bones the marrow is only fatty tissue. The marrow in other bones is a mixture of fat cells and blood-forming cells. The blood-forming cells produce red blood cells, white blood cells, and blood platelets. Other cells in the marrow include plasma cells, fibroblasts, and reticuloendothelial cells.
Other kinds of cancers that are sometimes called “bone cancers” start in the blood forming cells of the bone marrow not in the bone itself. The most common cancer that starts in the bone marrow and causes bone tumors is called multiple myeloma. Another cancer that starts in the bone marrow is leukemia, but it is generally considered a blood cancer rather than a bone cancer.
Some bone is able to support as much as 12,000 pounds per square inch. It takes as much as 1,200 to 1,800 pounds of pressure to break the femur (thigh bone). The bone itself contains 2 kinds of cells. The osteoblast is the cell that lays down new bone, and the osteoclast is the cell that dissolves old bone. Bone often looks as if it doesn’t change much, but the truth is that it is very active. Throughout our bodies, new bone is always forming while old bone is dissolving.
About 2,300 cases of bone cancer are diagnosed in the U.S. each year. Primary bone cancers are not common and account for far less than 1% of all cancers. Bone cancers are more common in children and younger adults than in older people. Cancer found in the bones of an older adult usually has spread to the bone after originating from another location in the body.
What is Bone Marrow Cancer?
Bone marrow cancer is a form of cancer that starts in the spongy tissue the marrow inside your bones. Marrow’s main job is to make blood cells. Most blood cells in the body develop from cells in the bone marrow the spongy material in the center of the bones called stem cells. Bone marrow cancer is that cancer that forms in the blood-forming stem cells of the bone marrow (soft sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones). Bone marrow cancer includes leukemias and multiple myeloma.
Symptoms of Bone Marrow Cancer
Some of the other bone marrow cancer symptoms are: pain, a hard lump on the affected bone; tenderness, stiffness, or swelling in the bone, usually near or inside a joint, frequent fractures for no reason, anemia, or low red blood cells, a lowering in the resistance to infections, dizziness, shortness of breath, and general weakness.
- Weight loss
- Bone pain or fractures
- Infections (either viral or bacterial)
- Nausea or vomiting
- Numbness in the legs
- Problems with urination
- Weakness and fatigue
- Loss of appetite
Bone Marrow Cancer Stages
Bone marrow cancer is usually divided into 3 stages by doctors, depending upon the condition of the person.
- Stage 1: Patients suffering from multiple myeloma don’t show any symptoms initially as the number of cancer cells in the body is not very high. In the first stage, the number of red blood cells maybe just within or below the required range. Another symptom could be lower level of M protein in the blood and urine.
- Stage 2: The number of cancer cells in the body during this stage is much higher than the first stage. In case the functioning of the kidneys get affected, the prognosis gets worse. This stage patients are those whose symptoms lie neither in the first or third stage.
- Stage 3: This is usually the most harmful and terminal stage of the cancer, wherein the number of cancer cells in the body is very high. Symptoms of this stage include Anemia, Hypercalcemia, bone damage and high levels of M protein in the blood and urine.
Bone Marrow Cancer Prognosis and Survival Rate
Most of the bone marrow cancer has reduced life expectancy. Even when they survive they have the lifetime risk. Compared to whites, African Americans have more probability of suffering from this dreaded disease. Bone marrow cancer can have a favorable outcome if detected and treated early. Prognosis of bone marrow cancer depends on various factors such as the age of the patient, severity of the cancer, stage of the cancer, health of the patient, and nature of treatment. Survival rate is between 28 to 35 %. Bone marrow transplant has increased the life expectancy. The advent of newer techniques and modern apparatus has increased hopes of the survival of patients.
Bone Marrow Cancer Treatment
Bone marrow cancer treatment includes;
- Chemotherapy (Chemo)
- Stem cell transplant
- Hormone therapy
- Treatment using naturopathic medicine
- Nutrition therapy
- Spiritual counseling