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Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Blood Cancer Awareness Month

Blood cancer occurs when your blood cells develop in an abnormal way and can affect your blood, bone marrow or lymphatic system. Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK and is the third biggest cancer killer, claiming for lives than breast or prostate cancer.

There are over 100 different types of blood cancer however there are three main types;


Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer that affects blood cells and bone marrow. It normally affects white blood cells, which are a very important part of the immune system as they help fight off infection.

People with leukaemia have a large number of white blood cells which build up and start to take over the bone marrow, spilling into the bloodstream.


Lymphoma happens when there is an abnormal development in the lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) which can cause swelling in the neck, armpit or groin. It can also affect other areas of your body but these are the most common.

There are two main types of lymphoma which are;

  • Hodgkin lymphoma
    Hodgkin lymphoma is quite rare but still affects around 3 people in 100,000 in the UK. There are two main types of Hodgkin lymphoma; classical Hodgkin lymphoma and nodular lymphocyte-predominant Hodgkin lymphoma (NLPHL). Classical is the most common type of Hodgkin lymphoma and NLPHL accounts for around 10% off Hodgkin lymphoma cases.
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
    This type of lymphoma is categorised into two groups; low-grade NHLs and high-grade NHLs. Low-grade NHLs normally develop slowly, while high-grade NLHs tend to develop quite quickly.


Myeloma is where the plasma cells produce abnormal antibodies, which stops plasma cells being able to fight infection. When the body produces too many abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow, this means there isn’t enough room for blood cells which are important as they help keep us well.

There are two main groups of myeloma;

  • Smouldering or asymptomatic myeloma is where there are no symptoms or tissue damage
  • Symptomatic myeloma is where there are symptoms and some tissue damage.

Signs and Symptoms

Over a third of people ignore possible signs of blood cancer, as there can be so many symptoms that are related to something else.

The following signs and symptoms of blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Lumps or swelling
  • Unexplained bruising or swelling
  • Night sweats
  • Breathlessness
  • Abdomen, joint or bone pain
  • Unexplained fever
  • Unusually pale complexion
  • Unexplained rash
  • Persistent, recurrent or severe infections

If you, or someone you know, experience any of the above symptoms, then it is very important that you contact your GP or a healthcare professional.

You can find information from the Bloodwise website and they have support numbers to call, should you need any assistance.

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