Facts and information about blood cancer

Updated 06 Nov 2017

Blood cancer isn’t easy to understand.  There are over 100 types of blood cancer and each can affect your blood cells and body in a different way.

The research we’re funding is increasing understanding of blood cancer and helping us develop better treatments, care, and support for people affected by it.

Here are the key things we think everyone needs to understand about blood cancer:

Ten facts everyone should know about blood cancer

  1. Blood cancer happens when something goes wrong with the development of your blood cells.  This stops them working properly and they may grow out of control, which can stop your blood doing the things it normally does to keep you healthy - that’s why blood cancer makes you unwell.
  2. 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.
  3. Anyone can develop blood cancer at any age, from tiny babies to older adults.
  4. Blood cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer in the UK.
  5. Every 14 minutes in the UK, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer or a related disorder.That’s almost 38,000 people every year - 104 each day.
  6. There are more than 230,000 people living with blood cancer in the UK. Each of their experiences will be different.
  7. While developments in treatment and care mean more people than ever are surviving or living with blood cancer, blood cancer is still the third biggest cancer killer in the UK.13,000 people lose their lives to blood cancers and related disorders every year in the UK.
  8. Not all blood cancers develop in the same way – some are fast growing (acute), and some develop more slowly (chronic). 
  9. 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.
  10. Blood cancer research is saving lives; today, two thirds of everyone diagnosed with blood cancer will still be with us in five years’ time. When we were founded in 1960, almost no-one survived for this long.

Our work

Statistics sourced through Haematological Malignancy Research Network (HMRN) and Cancer Research UK, accessed July 2017.