The stage of tumor refers to the extent of cancer. The stage of diagnosis is important for a patient making an educated treatment decision.Firstly, it begins by identifying the stage or progression of blood cancer.
Most cancers are staged based on their size and spread. However, unlike other cancers, blood cancer occurs within the bone marrow, within the developing blood cells. This makes it a unique case where staging occurs differently. Thereby, the stages of leukemia are categorized by the blood cell counts and accumulation of these cells within other organs like liver, spleen etc. To analyze and determine these stages, doctors often order X-Rays, lab tests, and other screening procedures for diagnosis of blood cancer.
What are the factors that help in the staging of Blood Cancer?
The following factors contribute to the staging and prognosis of blood cancer:
- White blood cell count: Neutropenia and leukopenia refer to lowered white blood cell counts. WBCs help fight infections of the body. Lower counts naturally put the body at risk. A person has neutropenia when the absolute neutrophil count is less than 2x 10 9 /L. Whereas, a person with leukopenia has a total WBC count less than 3×109/ L. Staging varies according to these counts.
- Platelet count: If the number of platelets (thrombocytopenia) is too low, excessive bleeding occurs. When cancer affects the bone marrow, naturally the platelet count dips. Accordingly, staging varies with the counts of the platelets.
- Age: An advanced age may negatively affect prognosis.
- History: A patient with a history of prior blood disorders needs additional care. Some forms of blood cancer affect close relatives in the same family.
- Chromosomal mutations or abnormalities: Somatic mutations in the DNA tend to cause blood cancer and depending on the extent, staging varies.
- Bone damage: In certain advanced stages of cancer, high levels of calcium or a bone damage help in deciding the stage.
- Enlarged liver or spleen: Splenomegaly (an enlarged spleen) and hepatomegaly (an enlarged liver) are some other factors which affect the staging after diagnoses.