Facts and information about blood cancer

Updated 27 Jul 2018

We’re the UK’s leading blood cancer research charity. We fund research to improve the treatment and care for people living with more than 100 types of blood cancer.

We currently fund 400 leading researchers across 40 UK research centres carrying out more than 160 different blood cancer research projects. We are currently funding 40 clinical trials and there are currently more than 4,700 patients on Bloodwise- funded clinical trials.

80% of haematology units in the UK give out our patient information booklets and last year, we sent over 50,000 patient information leaflets and factsheets.

Facts everyone should know about blood cancer

  1. There are over 100 different types of blood cancer and related conditions. Some groups like leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma are more familiar, but others such as myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) are much less well-known.
  2. Not all blood cancers develop in the same way – some are fast growing (acute), and some develop more slowly (chronic). 
  3. Sometimes the type of blood cancer a person has can change as cancer develops. For example, myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) can turn into acute myeloid leukaemia (AML). That’s one reason we think it’s important to fund research into all types of blood cancer.
  4. Every year in the UK, around 40,000 people are diagnosed with blood cancer.
  5. Blood cancer is the most common type of cancer amongst children, teenagers and young people in the UK.
  6. Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK.
  7. In the UK, 1 in 16 men and 1 in 22 women will develop blood cancer at some point in their lives.
  8. There are around 240,000 people living with blood cancer in the UK.
  9. Blood cancer is the third biggest cancer killer in the UK, claiming the lives of more than 15,000 people each year - more than breast cancer or prostate cancer.
  10. 6 in 10 people diagnosed with blood cancer in the UK survive for 10 or more years.
  11. There are more than 27,000 people with blood cancer on watch and wait in the UK. Watch and wait is a way of monitoring people with blood cancer or related blood conditions who do not need treatment straight away.
  12. 1 in 7 cases of cancer seen by a GP each year will be blood cancer.
  13. 3 out of every 10 blood cancer cases in England are diagnosed after presenting to the NHS as an emergency.
  14. 1 in 10 patients aren’t given the name of a clinical nurse specialist (CNS) to support them through treatment.
  15.  1 in 3 people diagnosed with blood cancer through GP referral had to see their GP 3 or more times before being referred. This is compared to only 1 in 16 people with breast cancer and 1 in 4 people with all tumour types.
  16. 20% of transfused red blood cell units are given to patients with blood cancer.