In order to highlight the importance of blood cancer awareness, education and research, September is observed as “National Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM)” each year in the United States. The campaign aims to raise awareness about all types of blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and myelodysplastic syndromes, both locally and internationally. Regarded as a common type of cancer, blood cancer affects the production and function of your blood cells and bone marrow (the spongy tissue inside the bones where blood cells are made). These cancers affect or change the working or behavior of your blood cells. Generally, in blood cancers, the normal blood cell development process is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. These abnormal or cancerous blood cells prevent your blood from performing many of its routine functions, like fighting off infections or preventing serious bleeding. The three main types of blood cancer include – leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Treatment modalities depend on the type and severity of cancer, the patient’s age, where the cancer has spread and other related factors. Oncologists and other specialists providing different treatment modalities must also ensure that medical billing and coding for this condition is done appropriately on the medical claims. Since even minor coding mistakes may result in claim denials, opting for billing services from an established medical billing company is the practical way to ensure correct reimbursement.

According to reports from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an estimated 178,520 people in the United States are expected to be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2020. It is estimated that every 3 minutes, approximately one person in the US is diagnosed with a blood cancer. The exact causes of blood cancer are not known. However, several factors like – a family history of cancer, genetic disorders, exposure to high levels of radiation and harmful chemicals, habit of smoking and other blood disorders (such as myelodysplastic syndrome) can potentially increase the risk of this condition. The month-long campaign aims to make as many people as possible involved in spreading awareness and funds to help support life-saving research.

Symptoms of blood cancer can vary from one person to another and may depend on the severity of the condition. Common symptoms include – persistent fatigue, weakness, unexplained weight loss, itchy skin or skin rash, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite, nausea, frequent infections, bone or joint pain, shortness of breath and swollen lymph nodes in the neck, underarms or groin. It can also cause symptoms in organs that have been infiltrated or affected by the cancer cells. In fact, blood cancer can also spread to other parts of your body including – the lungs, kidneys, GI tract, and testes. To make an accurate diagnosis of the symptoms, oncologists may begin with a complete medical history evaluation and physical examination. Several diagnostic tests like blood tests (complete blood count test), imaging tests (X-rays, Ultrasounds, and CT scans), biopsies and other tests (liver function tests, flow cytometry and lumbar puncture) will be performed by physicians to make an accurate diagnosis. Treatment modalities depend on the type and stage of the cancer and may include – chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy using medications, biological or immune therapy and stem cell transplantation.

Hematologist-oncologists while documenting the condition must include the diagnosis, screening tests and other procedures using the correct medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by experienced providers can help physicians use the correct codes for their medical billing purposes. ICD-10 codes for diagnosing blood cancers include –

  • C95 Leukemia of unspecified cell type
    • C95.0 Acute leukemia of unspecified cell type
      • C95.00 Acute leukemia of unspecified cell type, not having achieved remission
      • C95.01 Acute leukemia of unspecified cell type, in remission
      • C95.02 Acute leukemia of unspecified cell type, in relapse
    • C95.1 Chronic leukemia of unspecified cell type
      • C95.10 Chronic leukemia of unspecified cell type, not having achieved remission
      • C95.11 Chronic leukemia of unspecified cell type, in remission
      • C95.12 Chronic leukemia of unspecified cell type, in relapse
    • C95.9 Leukemia, unspecified
      • C95.90 Leukemia, unspecified, not having achieved remission
      • C95.91 Leukemia, unspecified, in remission
      • C95.92 Leukemia, unspecified, in relapse

Blood Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) was first commemorated in the United States Congress by House Resolution 1443 (sponsored by Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr.) in 2010. Over these years, the campaign has grown into a strong platform involving several local and national events that help fight blood cancers including leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease. As part of the month-long campaign, the top buildings, landmarks and business houses will be lighted in red color to highlight the cause and stress the importance of fighting blood cancers. Individuals are encouraged to dress in red color and support BCAM on several social media platforms by tagging their social posts with #FightBloodCancer.

Join Blood Cancer Awareness Month campaign this September. Recognize the need to spread awareness about this type of cancer and encourage early screening.