Stage refers to the extent of cancer. For anyone diagnosed with cancer, making an educated treatment decision is significant and it begins by identifying the stage or progression of blood cancer. One of the most important factors, however, that help you to identify the correct treatment option is to be sure of the stage of blood cancer. Most of the cancers are staged based on their size and spread of tumors. But unlike other cancers, blood cancer occurs within the bone marrow, within the developing blood cells and this makes it a unique case, where staging occurs differently. The stages of leukemia are hence 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 staging and prognosis of blood cancer are done keeping in mind the following factors:
- White blood cell count: The terms used to refer to lowered white blood cells are neutropenia and leukopenia. WBCs, help fight infections of the body and lower counts naturally put the body at risk. A person has neutropenia when the absolute neutrophil count is less than 2x 10 9 /L and a person has leukopenia when total WBC count is less than 3×109/ L. Based on these counts, staging varies.
- Platelet count: It is also called thrombocytopenia. If the number of platelets is too low, excessive bleeding occurs. When cancer affects the bone marrow, naturally the platelet count dips. Staging varies with the counts of the platelets.
- Age: It is observed that advanced age may negatively affect prognosis.
- History: A patient with a history of prior blood disorders has to be dealt with as an exceptional case. Some forms of blood cancer affect close relatives in the same family.
- Chromosomal mutations or abnormalities in the chromosomes of the cell: Somatic mutations in the DNA are known to cause blood cancer and based on the extent, staging varies.
- Bone damage: In the case of certain advanced stages of cancer, high levels of Calcium detected during tests and bone damage observed help in deciding the stage based on the intensity.
- Enlarged liver or spleen: Splenomegaly, which is an enlarged spleen and hepatomegaly, which is an enlarged liver are some other factors which affect the staging after running diagnoses.