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What is bone marrow cancer?

Gary J. Schiller, MD
Hematology & Oncology
The bone marrow is one of the largest organs in the body, making billions of cells every day. These cells include red blood cells to carry oxygen, many types of white blood cells to fight infection and platelets to clot the blood. Most of these cells circulate in the blood, but some go to lymph nodes and other sites to manage infection. Many of these cells have the potential to become malignant, and the malignancies are named after the cell of origin. For example, a common cancer involving the bone marrow is acute myeloid leukemia (ALM). The cell of origin is a cell that would, if it had matured normally, been destined to become a white blood cell intended to fight infection. This type of cancer may be induced by exposures to toxins, chemicals, radiation and even drugs used to treat other malignancies.

Bone marrow cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the blood-forming stem cells of the bone marrow (soft sponge-like tissue in the center of most bones). Bone marrow cancer includes leukemias and multiple myeloma.

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.  

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