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Types of Blood Disorders

Blood Disorders Affecting Red Blood Cells continued...

Thalassemia: This is a genetic form of anemia that mostly affects people of Mediterranean heritage. Most people have no symptoms and require no treatment. Others may need regular blood transfusions to relieve anemia symptoms.

Sickle cell anemia : A genetic condition that affects mostly people whose families have come from Africa, South or Central America, the Caribbean islands, India, Saudi Arabia, and Mediterranean countries that include Turkey, Greece, and Italy. In sickle cell anemia, the red blood cells are sticky and stiff. They can block blood flow. Severe pain and organ damage can occur.

Polycythemia vera: The body produces too many blood cells, from an unknown cause. The excess red blood cells usually create no problems but may cause blood clots in some people.

Malaria: A mosquito's bite transmits a parasite into a person's blood, where it infects red blood cells. Periodically, the red blood cells rupture, causing fever, chills, and organ damage. This blood infection is most common in parts of Africa but can also be found in other tropical and subtropical areas around the world; those traveling to affected areas should take preventive measures.

Blood Disorders Affecting White Blood Cells

Blood disorders that affect white blood cells include:

Lymphoma : A form of blood cancer that develops in the lymph system. In lymphoma, a white blood cell becomes malignant, multiplying and spreading abnormally. Hodgkin's lymphoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma are the two major groups of lymphoma. Treatment with chemotherapy and/or radiation can often extend life with lymphoma, and sometimes cure it.

Leukemia : A form of blood cancer in which a white blood cell becomes malignant and multiplies inside bone marrow. Leukemia may be acute (rapid and severe) or chronic (slowly progressing). Chemotherapy and/or stem cell transplantation (bone marrow transplant) can be used to treat leukemia, and may result in a cure.

Multiple myeloma: A blood cancer in which a white blood cell called a plasma cell becomes malignant. The plasma cells multiply and release damaging substances that eventually cause organ damage. Multiple myeloma has no cure, but stem cell transplant and/or chemotherapy can allow many people to live for years with the condition.

Myelodysplastic syndrome: A family of blood cancers that affect the bone marrow. Myelodysplastic syndrome often progresses very slowly, but may suddenly transform into a severe leukemia. Treatments may include blood transfusions, chemotherapy and stem cell transplant.

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