Blood cancer is a term that refers to cancers affecting the blood, bone marrow, and lymphatic system. Sadly, blood cancer is one of the highest causes of cancer deaths in Australia, claiming more lives each year than breast cancer and melanoma.
Blood cancers occur when normal blood cell production is interrupted by the uncontrolled growth of an abnormal type of blood cell. This uncontrolled growth can reduce the bone marrow’s ability to produce normal levels of other blood cells, which affects the rest of the body.
There are two common types of blood cancer: leukaemia and lymphoma.
Leukaemia: Leukaemia is caused by the accumulation of excess, abnormal white blood cells. Leukaemias are grouped according to the type of white blood cell that is affected – either lymphoid or myeloid cells. They are then also classified according to the speed with which they can progress. The four main types of leukaemia include:
Lymphoma: Lymphoma occurs when abnormal cells in the body’s lymphatic system grow in an uncontrolled way. The lymphatic system is part of the immune system and is made up of lymphatic vessels, lymph and lymph nodes. The two main types of lymphoma include:
No, Leukaemia is a type of blood cancer. Leukaemias are cancers of the white blood cells, which begin in the bone marrow. Leukaemias are grouped in two ways: the type of white blood cell affected – lymphoid or myeloid; and how quickly the disease develops and gets worse.
The symptoms of blood cancer vary by type but may include symptoms such as:
You can also learn more about blood cancer statistics and prevalence in Australia in this article.
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