Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia is a rare but serious blood disorder. If you have it, your bone marrow doesn’t make enough new blood cells. Causes include

  • Toxic substances, such as pesticides, arsenic, and benzeneIllustration of a long bone
  • Radiation therapy and chemotherapy for cancer
  • Certain medicines
  • Infections such as hepatitis, Epstein-Barr virus, or HIV
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Certain inherited conditions
  • Pregnancy

In many people, the cause is unknown.

Symptoms include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, and shortness of breath. It can cause heart problems such as an irregular heartbeat, an enlarged heart, and heart failure. You may also have frequent infections and bleeding.

Your doctor will diagnose aplastic anemia based on your medical and family histories, a physical exam, and test results. Once your doctor knows the cause and severity of the condition, he or she can create a treatment plan for you. Treatments include blood transfusions, blood and marrow stem cell transplants, and medicines.

Artificial Limbs

People can lose all or part of an arm or leg for a number of reasons. Common ones include

  • Circulation problems from atherosclerosis or diabetes. They may cause you to need anamputation.
  • Traumatic injuries, including from traffic accidents and military combat
  • Cancer
  • Birth defects

If you are missing an arm or leg, an artificial limb can sometimes replace it. The device, which is called a prosthesis, can help you to perform daily activities such as walking, eating, or dressing. Some artificial limbs let you function nearly as well as before.

Bone Cancer

Cancer that starts in a bone is uncommon. Cancer that has spread to the bone from another part of the body is more common.

There are three types of bone cancer:

  • Osteosarcoma – occurs most often between ages 10 and 19. It is more common in the knee and upper arm.
  • Chondrosarcoma – starts in cartilage, usually after age 40
  • Ewing’s sarcoma – occurs most often in children and teens under 19. It is more common in boys than girls.

The most common symptom of bone cancer is pain. Other symptoms vary, depending on the location and size of the cancer. Surgery is often the main treatment for bone cancer. Other treatments may include amputation, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Because bone cancer can come back after treatment, regular follow-up visits are important.

Bone Infections

Like other parts of the body, bones can get infected. The infections are usually bacterial, but can also be fungal. They may spread to the bone from nearby skin or muscles, or from another part of the body through the bloodstream. People who are at risk for bone infections include those with diabetes, poor circulation, or recent injury to the bone. You may also be at risk if you are having hemodialysis.

Symptoms of bone infections include

  • Pain in the infected area
  • Chills and fever
  • Swelling, warmth, and redness

A blood test or imaging test such as an x-ray can tell if you have a bone infection. Treatment includes antibiotics and often surgery.

Bone Marrow Diseases

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. The stem cells can develop into the red blood cells that carry oxygen through your body, the white blood cells that fight infections, and the platelets that help with blood clotting.Illustration of a long bone

If you have a bone marrow disease, there are problems with the stem cells or how they develop.Leukemia is a cancer in which the bone marrow produces abnormal white blood cells. With aplastic anemia, the bone marrow doesn’t make red blood cells. Other diseases, such as lymphoma, can spread into the bone marrow and affect the production of blood cells. Other causes of bone marrow disorders include your genetic makeup and environmental factors.

Symptoms of bone marrow diseases vary. Treatments depend on the disorder and how severe it is. They might involve medicines, blood transfusions or a bone marrow transplant.

Bone Marrow Transplantation

Bone marrow is the spongy tissue inside some of your bones, such as your hip and thigh bones. It contains immature cells, called stem cells. The stem cells can develop into red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout the body, white blood cells, which fight infections, and platelets, which help the blood to clot.

A bone marrow transplant is a procedure that replaces a person’s faulty bone marrow stem cells. Doctors use these transplants to treat people with certain diseases, such as

  • Leukemia
  • Severe blood diseases such as thalassemias, aplastic anemia, and sickle cell anemia
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Certain immune deficiency diseases

Before you have a transplant, you need to get high doses of chemotherapy and possibly radiation. This destroys the faulty stem cells in your bone marrow. It also suppresses your body’s immune system so that it won’t attack the new stem cells after the transplant.

In some cases, you can donate your own bone marrow stem cells in advance. The cells are saved and then used later on. Or you can get cells from a donor. The donor might be a family member or unrelated person.

Bone marrow transplantation has serious risks. Some complications can be life-threatening. But for some people, it is the best hope for a cure or a longer life.

Limb Loss

People can lose all or part of an arm or leg for a number of reasons. Common ones includePhotograph of a female doctor talking to a male patient in a hospital bed

  • Problems with blood circulation. These may be the result of atherosclerosis or diabetes. Severe cases may result in amputation.
  • Injuries, including from traffic accidents and military combat
  • Cancer
  • Birth defects

Some amputees have phantom pain, which is the feeling of pain in the missing limb. Other physical problems include surgical complications and skin problems, if you wear an artificial limb. Many amputees use an artificial limb. Learning how to use it takes time. Physical therapy can help you adapt.

Recovery from the loss of a limb can be hard. Sadness, anger, and frustration are common. If you are having a tough time, talk to your doctor. Treatment with medicine or counseling can help.

Lymphoma

Lymphoma is a cancer of a part of the immune system called the lymph system. There are many types of lymphoma. One type is Hodgkin disease. The rest are called non-Hodgkin lymphomas.Illustration of the lymphatic system

Non-Hodgkin lymphomas begin when a type of white blood cell, called a T cell or B cell, becomes abnormal. The cell divides again and again, making more and more abnormal cells. These abnormal cells can spread to almost any other part of the body. Most of the time, doctors don’t know why a person gets non-Hodgkin lymphoma. You are at increased risk if you have a weakened immune system or have certain types of infections.

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma can cause many symptoms, such as

  • Swollen, painless lymph nodes in the neck, armpits or groin
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fever
  • Soaking night sweats
  • Coughing, trouble breathing or chest pain
  • Weakness and tiredness that don’t go away
  • Pain, swelling or a feeling of fullness in the abdomen

Your doctor will diagnose lymphoma with a physical exam, blood tests, a chest x-ray, and a biopsy. Treatments include chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, biological therapy, or therapy to remove proteins from the blood. Targeted therapy uses substances that attack cancer cells without harming normal cells. Biologic therapy boosts your body’s own ability to fight cancer. If you don’t have symptoms, you may not need treatment right away. This is called watchful waiting.