Blood & Bone Marrow Cancer Care

Advanced treatments from knowledgeable, caring specialists

Blood & Bone Marrow Cancer Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital–Needham

Blood cells are made in your bone marrow. And just like other types of cells in your body, they may become cancerous. When they do, your blood can’t do the important work it’s supposed to do.

At BID Needham, we have a team of medical professionals to help you fight blood and bone marrow cancers. That team includes experienced hematologists (doctors who specialize in treating blood and bone marrow diseases) and oncologists (cancer doctors). They’re joined by oncology nurses, social workers and other specialists.

Working together, we provide the treatment and assistance you need to face your cancer head-on. You can count on personalized, state-of-the-art care, here in your own community.

Types of Blood Cancer

There are three main types of cancer in the blood.

Leukemia occurs in early blood-forming cells — usually white blood cells. There are several subtypes:

  • Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
  • Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
  • Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)

Acute leukemia progresses rapidly and requires prompt treatment. Chronic leukemia is slower to advance.

Lymphocytic leukemia develops in marrow cells that become lymphocytes. These are a type of white blood cells that are part of the immune system. Myelogenous leukemias occur in marrow cells that become white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets.

Leukemia Symptoms  

Leukemia symptoms can vary widely. Here are some of the most common signs of leukemia:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bone pain
  • Enlarged liver and spleen
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and night sweats
  • Frequent headaches
  • Pale skin
  • Swollen tonsils
  • Tiny red skin spots
  • Weight loss

Lymphoma affects lymphocytes. These are white blood cells that fight infection. Over time, this cancer interferes with your body’s immune system.

  • There are two main types of lymphoma:
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Which type you have is determined by whether pathologists see certain cells known as Reed-Sternberg cells in a biopsy.

Lymphoma Symptoms  

Possible lymphoma symptoms vary:

  • Chest pain or problems breathing
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Fever
  • Itchiness
  • Rash
  • Sweating
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Weight loss 

Myeloma refers to cancer of your plasma cells, which are found in bone marrow. These are white blood cells that help your body fight disease and infection. Multiple myeloma occurs when myeloma cells collect in many different bones.

Myeloma Symptoms  

Myeloma causes different symptoms in different people:

  • Anemia
  • Bone problems, including pain, fractures or osteoporosis
  • Frequent infections
  • High levels of calcium in your blood
  • High levels of protein in your blood and/or urine
  • Kidney problems
  • Weight loss  

Blood Cancer Diagnosis

If doctors suspect you may have a type of blood cancer, they’re likely to do a physical exam and various blood tests. Imaging tests, such as a CT scan or MRI Scan may be ordered, as well.

A bone marrow exam also may be helpful. During this test, doctors insert a long needle into a bone and remove fluid and solid material. Doctors numb the area to minimize discomfort. You’re usually awake during the procedure. We then examine what was removed under a microscope for signs of cancer.

Blood Cancer Treatments

Treatment depends on a number of factors, such as the type of blood cancer you have, your age and your overall health.

Common treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy and immunotherapy. Immunotherapy helps your own immune system better fight your disease.

Because cancer can affect many different aspects of your life, we also offer extensive support services. We designed these services to ease the cancer journey for you and your family. We provide education and coordination of care, along with other key services, such as home visits by nurses.

Care at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

Our hematology and oncology doctors also are on staff at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital Medical Center (BIDMC). You get the benefit of this expertise here in Needham. If you require more advanced cancer services, we can seamlessly transition your care to BIDMC. We focus on ensuring you have all the specialized resources you may need.

Make an Appointment

To speak with a member of our cancer care team, please call.