Signs & Symptoms of Bone Marrow Disease

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The soft, fatty tissue found inside our bones is called bone marrow. This tissue supports young cells (called stem cells) that have not yet developed into white blood cells, which fight infection; red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the body; or platelets, which help blood to clot. Fully grown blood cells are released from bone marrow into the blood stream according to the needs of the body. Bone marrow disease occurs when the young cells are prevented from growing, duplicate abnormally or malfunction in any number of ways. Some common bone marrow diseases are these: Leukemia Myeloproliferative disorders Lymphomas Anemias Hemoglobinopathies

Leukemia

This is a rapid, progressive cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Leukemia is diagnosed when abnormal white blood cells are being produced in the marrow. The Mayo Clinic reports that this type of cancer is most common in children, and chances for successful treatment are good. In adults, however, treatment success is not as high. Individuals with this type of cancer may bruise easily, often feel fatigued and have bone and joint pain.

Myeloproliferative disorders

There are four different bone marrow disorders of this type. Individuals with this disorder will have one common symptom: an enlarged spleen with possible abdominal pain. These disorders can also cause excessive bleeding, frequent infections and bruising. Polycythemia vera occurs when too many blood cells are produced—especially red blood cells. Essential thrombocytosis is characterized when too many blood-clotting platelets are produced. Overactive platelet production can lead to heart attack and stroke. Primary or idiopathic myelofibrosis occurs when the bone marrow produces an abundance of fibrous tissue. The production of healthy blood cells is compromised with this disorder. Chronic myelogenous leukemia is a bone-marrow cancer caused by abnormal white blood cells.

Anemia

Anemia occurs when bone marrow ceases or slows production of red and white blood cells and platelets. The bone marrow will also produce cells that do not carry enough hemoglobin. When someone is anemic, damaged stem cells are unable to replicate themselves. Anemic people tend to feel tired and look pale. They may also develop spots under their skin and have difficulty stopping a wound from bleeding.

Lymphoma

Also called Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, this is a cancer caused when a type of white blood cell becomes abnormal and replicates over and over. These blood cells will then circulate to other parts of the body. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes under the arms and in the groin and neck. Weight loss, fever and sweating may also occur.

Hemoglobinopathies

Hemoglobinopathies are characterized by red blood cells that are abnormal in shape or size. This condition is generally inherited. Individuals with this disorder may experience severe pain, suffer organ damage and have frequent infections.

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