Blood cancer is characterized by the abnormal growth of red blood cells, bone marrow cells or cells of the lymphatic system. Blood cancer is divided into three subcategories: leukemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma. Leukemia is a type of cancer in which the body's ability to create red blood cells is impaired. Lymphomas are a type of blood cancer that affects lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell integral in the provision of immunity from foreign pathogens. Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer that involves the plasma. Any of these blood cancers can be caused by a genetic disorder, high doses of radiation or carcinogens.
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While the exact cause of multiple myeloma is unknown, researchers at The American Cancer Society believe it is caused by changes in the genetic information of plasma cells. The development of abnormalities in oncogenes-genes promote cell division, such as c-myc, N-ras and K-ras in the beginning stages of plasma cell tumors. Additionally, myeloma cancerous cells, parts of chromosome number 13, are missing. These deletions in chromosome 13 result in more aggressive and resistant forms of myeloma cancer.
Radiation or chemotherapy can cause leukemia by inducing genetic damage through the translocation of genetic material on sister chromosomes. This translocation of genetic material results in cells in which the growth, division and death phase information is displaced, thus cell growth is uncontrolled, resulting in cancerous growth. According to Lef.org, population studies have shown a direct relationship between on the onset of leukemia in the United States and radiation exposure from nuclear testing between the time period of 1951 and 1962.
While the exact cause of lymphoma is unknown, scientists believe that carcinogens play an active role because of their ability to damage the genetic information, and consequently, the cell's ability to function and regulate growth. According to Medicalnewstoday.com, carcinogens such as benzene and black hair dye have been linked to higher rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.