Blood Cancer
Blood Cancer

Affects over 25,000 people in the UK each year

Blood Cancer

Blood Cancer is a group of Cancers that covers Leukaemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma.

Blood Cancer is a group of Cancers that covers Leukaemia, Lymphoma, and Myeloma. These Cancers affect over 25,000 people in the UK each year, with Leukaemia and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma being the most common Blood Cancers.

Leukaemia is a Blood Cancer that affects the white blood cells. This is a bit of a bugger as they play an important part in our immune system to fight infections.

The problem? Leukaemia causes abnormal white blood cells to grow in the bone marrow. This then stops other important blood cells from growing. Most problems associated with this type of Cancer are caused less by the Leukaemia cells themselves, but by the lack of normal cells in the blood.

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma affects your immune system by making too many lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell). This can start off in your lymph nodes, bone marrow, blood, or spleen, but it can also develop in other body parts too.

4,500 men are diagnosed with Leukaemia in the UK every year

Leukaemia is most common in the 0 – 4 and 40+ age groups

1 in 71 lifetime risk of developing Leukaemia for men

6th most common Cancer in the UK is Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and is most often found in people aged 65+


The exact causes of Blood Cancers are not known, but there are certain risk factors that make it more likely that you could develop it. These include:

  • Agricultural work, or rubber/plastic manufacturing (likely due to high levels of pesticides or chemicals)
  • Benzene (a chemical found in petrol and used in the rubber industry)
  • Smoking (smokers are 3 times more likely to develop Acute Leukaemia than non-smokers)
  • Exposure to radiation
  • Certain genetic disorders (the most common being Down’s Syndrome)


There are a number of symptoms that could be signs of Blood Cancer. These can include:

  • Repeated infections (that happen over a short space of time)
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Breathlessness
  • Weakness
  • Night sweats / high temperature
  • Unusual bruising
  • Swollen lymph nodes (glands)
  • Pale skin
  • Unusual and frequent bleeding (e.g. bleeding gums or nose bleeds)
  • Bone and joint pain
  • Swollen liver or spleen

These symptoms don’t necessarily mean you do have Blood Cancer, as they could be a sign of a different, less serious condition. But, if you do spot any of these, then you should get them checked out as soon as you can.


When you visit your GP they will examine you, and may take a blood test to help determine the problem.

To confirm a diagnosis of Blood Cancer, you may need a bone marrow biopsy. This would usually be carried out under local anaesthetic. The procedure is usually painless, although you could have some bruising and discomfort for a few days afterwards. All in all, the procedure should take just 15 minutes to complete (and you can go home straight afterwards, so no overnight hospital stays for you).

Other Cancer Types: