10 questions you should ask the doctor immediately after your cancer diagnosis


Blood cancers arise from blood cells, bone marrow or the lymphatic system. These can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, or gender. The three main types of blood cancer are leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Blood cancer, a much dreaded disease, is viewed with great trepidation due to a number of myths surrounding its causes and treatment. Dr. Mitu Shrikhande, Senior Hematology Consultant, Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj has recommended 10 questions you should ask the doctor immediately after your blood cancer diagnosis.Read also – From Lisa Ray to Manisha Koirala: 9 Indian actresses who fought cancer with a tenacious smile


1. What is blood cancer?
It is a heterogeneous general term for cancers arising from the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. It includes 3 broad categories – Leukemia – acute/chronic, Hodgkins/non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas and multiple myeloma Also Read – Kirron Kher Cancer Update: ‘Yeh Zindagi Hai,’ she says, adding, ‘There is no way out except treatment’

2. Can blood cancers be treated?
Yes. Not only can they be treated, but they can potentially be cured in 50-80% of cases, depending on age, stage and subtype. A blood cancer diagnosis is not a death sentence. Also Read – 5 Common Blood Cancer Myths Debunked

3. Can blood cancers be prevented?
No. We cannot prevent blood cancers, but by educating patients about the warning signs of blood cancer, we can help patients report it early. Early treatment can improve outcomes.

4. What are the symptoms and signs of blood cancer?
Lymphoma and leukemia may present with lumps in the neck, armpits or groin, persistent unexplained fever with unexplained weight loss, night sweats, swelling of the face and neck, shortness of breath, enlargement liver and spleen, swelling of the gums and bleeding. Myeloma can present with anemia, bone pain (back pain is classic), fracture on mild trauma, unexplained kidney dysfunction, and recurrent infections.

5. What causes blood cancer?
Risk factors associated with exposure to radiation, chemotherapy, toxins like benzene, tanning products and pesticides. Unknown acquired mutations in DNA can lead to blood cancers.

6. Are blood cancers hereditary?
No. Blood cancers are acquired and not hereditary. They are not contagious and do not pass from one family member to another.

7. Can blood cancers occur at any age?
Yes. Although they are more common in older people, no age is spared. 26% of all childhood cancers are blood cancers.

8. How is blood cancer diagnosed?
CBC (complete blood count) including peripheral smear, bone marrow studies, flow cytometry or immunophenotyping, chromosomal studies, molecular studies, excisional lymph node biopsy are some of the tests needed to make a diagnosis.

9. What is the role of the FNAC of the lymph node in the diagnosis of lymphoma?
FNAC has no role in diagnosis. Excisional lymph node biopsy is essential for an accurate diagnosis.

10. What is the staging of blood cancer?
Acute leukemia is not staged. It is divided into risk groups. Lymphoma is staged based on PET CT and bone marrow studies. Myeloma is a stage based on risk scores and kidney involvement.


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