What is blood cancer?

Date posted: 27th September 2021

Residents across Lancashire are being asked to familiarise themselves with the symptoms of blood cancer this Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Knowing the signs could help improve the rates of early diagnosis and save lives.

Blood cancer does not describe a single condition, but rather a group of conditions, which affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system (part of the immune system). These diseases are, unfortunately relatively common and every year around 25,000 in the UK are diagnosed with blood cancer.

The symptoms for the most common types of blood cancer include:

  • Leukaemia: Feeling tired or weak, bruising or bleeding easily, swollen lymph nodes (lumps in the neck, armpits, groin, or under the chin), swollen stomach, fever/night sweats, pain in the bones or joints and unexplained weight loss
  • Lymphoma: Swollen lymph nodes, fever/night sweats, persistently feeling tired or weak, itchy skin, unexplained weight loss, coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain, increased alcohol sensitivity or pain the lymph nodes after drinking, swelling or feeling pain in the stomach
  • Myeloma: Weight loss, fevers and infections, frequent broken bones, bone pain, persistent thirst, frequent urination, nausea, constipation.

Dr Neil Smith, GP lead for Cancer Research UK and the Lancashire and South Cumbria Cancer Alliance, said:

“Blood cancer can be difficult to diagnose and this is one of the reasons why it is such a serious problem. Often, blood cancer is only found in people once their illness has got to an advanced stage, but, if cancer is recognised earlier on, it is much easier to treat and potentially cure. I urge everyone to learn what the common symptoms of blood cancer are and to seek help if you have these, particularly if they are unexplained and persistent. Survival rates for blood cancer do vary, but there has been a significant improvement in recent years. There is a lot of help and support available for blood cancer, but for this to be more effective, it is important that people speak to their GP if they think they have the warning signs.” The CCG cancer team have also launched the “Let’s talk cancer” campaign to make cancer part of everyday conversations.”

Find out more about recognising the symptoms of cancer and what to do about them (opens in a new window). 

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