Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK. Every 14 minutes, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer or a related disorder.

What are blood cancers?

There are three main types of blood cancers:

Lymphoma is a blood cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, from cells called lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps the body fight infections. There are two main types – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma

Leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells (called lymphocytes), which are an important part of our immune system, helping the body fight infections. It is named according to the type of white blood cell which is affected and whether it is acute (fast-growing) or chronic (slow-growing).

Myeloma (also known as multiple myeloma) is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are white blood cells that produce disease and infection-fighting antibodies in your body. Myeloma cells prevent the normal production of antibodies, leaving your body’s immune system weakened and susceptible to infection.

Symptoms of blood cancer

Despite its commonality, the symptoms of blood cancers are vague and can be difficult to detect. Whilst spontaneous bruising and repetitive infections may be a cause for concern, non-specific symptoms such as tiredness which is common and usually not caused by a serious condition, often results in patients not seeking medical care.

Symptoms of blood cancer include:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Tiredness and exhaustion
  • Feeling weak and breathless
  • Easily bruise or bleed
  • Swollen stomach or abdominal discomfort
  • Frequent and repeated infections
  • Excessive sweating (night sweat, fever)
  • Sore bones and joint
  • Itchy skin
  • Bone pain (ribs/back)

Treatment of blood cancers

Treatment for blood cancer depends on the type of cancer, your age, how fast the cancer is progressing, where the cancer has spread and other factors. We carry out advanced treatments and provide exceptional haematology care for managing a range of blood disorders. Some common blood cancer treatments include:

  • Stem cell transplantation: A stem cell transplant infuses healthy blood-forming stem cells into the body. Stem cells may be collected from the bone marrow, circulating blood and umbilical cord blood
  • Chemotherapy: uses anticancer drugs to interfere with and stop the growth of cancer cells in the body. Chemotherapy for blood cancer sometimes involves giving several drugs together in a set regimen. This treatment may also be given before a stem cell transplant
  • Radiation therapy: Radiation therapy may be used to destroy cancer cells or to relieve pain or discomfort. It may also be given before a stem cell transplant