Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes

Blood Cancer Awareness Month (Leukaemia & Lymphoma Awareness Month)

Ellie Dawes
Posted by
Ellie Dawes
25 Sep 2014

Five interesting facts for blood cancer awareness month.

Blood Cancer Awareness Month, or Leukaemia & Lymphoma Awareness Month as some people are referring to it, is a global awareness month to give us all; charities, patients and supporters, a chance to shout a little louder and tell the world what blood cancer is, how is affects people's lives, and what we want to do about it.

So, when is blood cancer awareness month? It's this month, September! Have you missed all the posts on Facebook about it? Did you miss seeing Niagara falls turn red on lymphoma awareness day? Don't worry, you have a few days left to shout about blood cancer this month so, to help you do that, I thought I would share with you five fascinating facts I have learned about blood cancers since working here at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

1. Blood cancer research has benefits beyond blood cancer. Our ground-breaking Trials Acceleration Programme could revolutionise how clinical trials are run across different diseases. Targeted drugs developed in blood cancers are useful in other diseases, for example the effectiveness of new targeted drugs like imatinib (also known as Gleevec or Glivec) in treating Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia is informing research into all cancers (see an article about this in Nature.)

2. As diagnosis for blood cancer becomes more effective, more patients for diseases like lymphoma are being put on Watch & Wait. This means the patient is not yet given treatment, but monitored closely for signs they may need to start treatment. Many patients find this difficult to explain to their family, friends and employers - it is hard for people to understand why someone would be diagnosed with cancer, and then not given any treatment! Lymphoma patient Kate Giles writes a brilliant blog on this website about the practical and psychological effects of being on Watch & Wait. 

3. Naked mole rats don't get cancer. One of my favourite nuggets of research wisdom I have been told by our head of research Dr Matt Kaiser is that the delightfully ugly naked mole rat is resistant to cancer. Researcher João Pedro de Magalhães at the University of Liverpool says in this article “Harnessing the power of natural selection to increase our knowledge of cancer and hopefully develop therapies against cancer or for cancer prevention is a very unexplored area.” So to cure cancer, we may need to be like the mole rat...

Leukaemia & Lymphoma awareness month

4. We are beating blood cancer. Many people assume we fund research that will one day yield a cure-all treatment for blood cancer. And they might be right. But what inspires me is that the research we fund has already made an enormous difference, and continues to save and improve more and more lives every single year. When our charity began research into blood cancer in 1960, childhood leukaemia was effectively a death sentence. Today, 90% of children will survive their leukaemia. We have lots to do, but the gains we are making against blood cancer are continuous. That's why I like to say we are not just going to beat blood cancer one day, we are beating it today.

5. We can stop blood cancer from happening. I find it amazing that many of the research projects we fund will not just give us new ways to treat blood cancer, they will stop people from getting blood cancer in the first place. For example, Professor Caroline Austin is working at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research's Centre of Excellence in Newcastle studying the 15% of acute myeloid leukaemia patients who develop their disease as a result of a previous cancer. If Caroline can understand the chromosomal changes that are caused by the first treatment, she could be able to stop them happening and completely prevent treatment-related AML. That would mean 375 people every year would be spared blood cancer altogether!

We are doing amazing things to help blood cancer patients live long and happy lives. Today, on this day in Blood Cancer Awareness Month, right now, you could do something to contribute to this amazing work. Donate



Great blog Ellie!

I love that info on the mole rat, too, but as you say I think the thing that is most exciting is that we are already beating blood cancer for thousands of patients thanks to the amazing research that's already been carried out. Going forwards those numbers that we are saving will only continue to grow and the challenge now is undoubtedly looking in to finding more efficient and less harmful ways of doing this and, ultimately, stopping it from happening in the first place which I genuinely believe will happen in our life time! 


Great post! We love the idea of a campaign dedicated to raising awareness of blood cancer.
Soon we hope to initiate a similar campaign here in Australia.