Blood cancer

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Diagram showing cancer cells spreading into the blood stream CRUK 448.svg

Blood cancer is a type of cancer or tumor. Blood cancer hurts the blood, bone marrow, lymph, and lymphatic system. Sometimes more than one body part is hurt.

The cause is usually different from other types of cancer. The way to find out if a person has this cancer is also different.

People with blood cancers see a kind of doctor called a hematologist (blood doctor) or oncologist (cancer doctor). There are other blood problems that are not blood cancers. A blood doctor also helps people with those problems.

Medical terms[change | change source]

Tumors of the hematopoietic (blood cell forming) and lymphoid tissues are local growths. Hematopoietic and lymphoid malignancies are cancers that affect the blood, bone marrow, lymph, and lymphatic system.[1][2] As the blood and lymph connect through both the circulatory system and the immune system, a disease affecting one will often affect the others as well.

Types[change | change source]

There are three types:

Finding out[change | change source]

A doctor will do some tests to find out if a person has a blood cancer. One common test is a complete blood count. The cells that circulate in the bloodstream are generally divided into three types: white blood cells (leukocytes), red blood cells (erythrocytes), and platelets (thrombocytes). The relative proportions is what picks up indications of a problem.

Sometimes the doctor will take a very small piece of the body out, to look at it. This is called a biopsy. Bone marrow is where new blood is made in the body. A bone marrow biopsy looks at the blood-making parts to see if they have cancer.

Treatment[change | change source]

People with blood cancer often take drugs called chemotherapy or immunotherapy. If the blood cancer is in one place, they may have radiotherapy. A bone marrow transplant is a difficult way to kill blood cancers.

How many people get it[change | change source]

Thousands of people get blood cancers. Each year, 30,000 people in the United Kingdom (UK) learn that they have blood cancer.

Lymphomas are more common than leukemias.

References[change | change source]

  1. Vardiman J.W. et al 2009. "The 2008 revision of the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of myeloid neoplasms and acute leukemia: rationale and important changes.". Blood 114 (5): 937–51. doi:10.1182/blood-2009-03-209262. PMID 19357394.
  2. World Cancer Report 2014.. World Health Organization. 2014. pp. Chapter 5.13. ISBN 9283204298.

Other websites[change | change source]