This blog will give you regular, high-quality information about cancer. You'll also get to meet the info team and get updates on our projects. We hope you find it useful. And if there are any topics you'd like us to blog about, just let us know.
September is Blood Cancer Awareness month. In this blog, our information development nurse, Teri, gives a brief overview of the 3 main types of blood cancer (leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma) and talks about some symptoms to be aware of.With every heartbeat, our heart pumps blood throughout our bodies. Blood acts as a transport system delivering oxygen and nutrients to all our cells. It also picks up waste products and takes them away from our cells.
Our blood is made up of:
Each day, new blood cells are made to replace ones that have worn out. This happens inside the part of the bones called the bone marrow. Sometimes this development process can go wrong. If this happens, it can cause an abnormal type of blood cell or a blood condition to develop, including blood cancer. There are different types of blood cancer that can affect your blood, bone marrow or lymphatic system. The lymphatic system helps to protect us from infection and disease and it drains fluid from the body’s tissues.
Leukaemia Leukaemia is a cancer of the white blood cells. Leukaemia can be fast growing, known as acute leukaemia. When it is acute, the symptoms may appear very quickly over a few weeks and people may feel ill quite quickly. The most common types are acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML). Or leukaemia can be slower growing. This is known as chronic leukaemia. In early stages of chronic leukaemia, many people do not have symptoms or develop more slowly, over months or years. The types of chronic leukaemia are chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML).
Lymphoma Lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system. In lymphoma, blood cells called lymphocytes become abnormal. There are two main types of lymphoma – Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). There are many types of NHL. Some grow very slowly and may not need treatment for months or years and may not need treatment at all.The most common symptom of lymphoma is a painless swelling or lump in one or more the lymph nodes. Some symptoms of leukaemia and lymphoma can be the same. For example:
If you have any of the above symptoms, you should have them checked by your GP.
MyelomaMyeloma is a cancer of the plasma cells in the bone marrow. Plasma cells are a type of white blood cell which fight infection. In myeloma, the process of developing plasma cells is out of control and large numbers of abnormal plasma cells (myeloma cells) are made. The myeloma cells fill up the bone marrow and make it hard to make healthy white and red cells and platelets. The bone can also become damaged.
Symptoms of myeloma may vary and may not cause any symptoms in the early stages. They may include:
All the above symptoms are common to many illnesses other than blood cancer. But if you have any of the symptoms we have mentioned in this blog, you should have them checked by your GP.
To see what else Macmillan's cancer information team has been blogging about, please visit our blog home page! You can subscribe to receive our blogs by email or RSS too.
We're with you every step of the way
The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.
Comments? Feel free to add them below (you need to be logged in).
Keep in touch Follow Macmillan’s cancer information team on Twitter @mac_cancerinfo
Safe payments by:
We're here to provide physical, financial and emotional support. So whatever cancer throws your way, we're right there with you.
© Macmillan Cancer Support
© Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man
(604). Also operating in Northern Ireland. A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company
number 2400969. Isle of Man company number 4694F. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ. VAT no: