Facts and information about blood cancer
Find out up-to-date facts and accurate information on blood cancer.
We want to provide the latest information about blood cancer, because we think it's important that everyone is wise about their blood. If you've been diagnosed with blood cancer, remember that every individual is different, and that your consultant is the best person to give you the most accurate information about your condition.
What is blood cancer?
- Not all blood cancers develop in the same way – some are fast growing, and some develop more slowly.
- Some have obvious symptoms, whilst others have symptoms which are harder to spot, and not everyone will get every symptom of a blood cancer.
- Every person with blood cancer is an individual. Not everyone will have the same symptoms, treatment or experience of cancer – everyone is different.
- Anyone can get blood cancer, at any time in their lives.
- In most cases, we can’t say for certain what causes blood cancer. But we do see some trends and risk factors which could increase the likelihood of a person getting blood cancer.
Facts about blood cancer
- There are 137 types of blood cancer and related disorders.
- Blood cancer is the fifth most common cancer in the UK.
- Every 14 minutes in the UK, someone is diagnosed with blood cancer or a related disorder. That’s almost 38,000 people every year. Or 104 each day.
- About one in 25 people will be diagnosed with a blood cancer at some point in their lifetime.
- Blood cancer is the most common cancer in children and young adults. Leukaemia and lymphoma together account for about four in ten childhood cancers.
- Leukaemia is the most common type of childhood cancer.
- Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia is the most common leukaemia affecting adults in the western world.
- There are 230,000 people living with blood cancer in the UK.
- We predict that in the future more and more people will be living with a blood cancer, due to an ageing population and improving survival rates.
- Blood cancer is the third biggest cancer killer in the UK. 38 people die from blood cancer every day. 14,000 people lose their lives to blood cancers and related disorders every year in the UK.
- However, today, two thirds of everyone diagnosed with blood cancer will still be with us in five years’ time. When we started, almost no-one survived for this long.
- In 1960, barely 1 in 10 children survived the most common form of childhood cancer – acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Now, thanks to research, 9 in 10 do.
- Leukaemia is a blood cancer that affects white blood cells, which are an important part of our immune system that fights infection. People with leukaemia make abnormal white blood cells, which collect in the bone marrow and stop the production of other important blood cells.
- Around 8,200 people are diagnosed with leukaemia each year in the UK – more than 22 people every day.
- 59% of people with leukaemia survive to five years, but there are big differences in survival rates between different types of leukaemia.
- The highest survival rate is for hairy cell leukaemia (90.1%) but this condition’s very rare. The lowest is for acute myeloid leukaemia, where only 15% of people survive to five years.
- We have 13 clinical trials looking into better treatments for leukaemia.
- We fund 109 research projects looking at leukaemia.
- Lymphoma is a blood cancer that affects a type of white blood cell called a lymphocyte – people with lymphoma make abnormal lymphocytes. It often appears as a solid tumour, often in the lymph nodes of the neck, chest, armpit or groin.
- Lymphomas are grouped into two different types: Hodgkin lymphoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
- Around 11,900 people get lymphoma each year in the UK – more than 32 people every day.
- Lymphoma is the most common blood cancer in young people aged 15 to 24.
- 85% of people survive Hodgkin lymphoma to five years, and for non-Hodgkin lymphoma it’s 65%.
- We have eight clinical trials looking into better treatments for lymphoma.
- We fund 31 research projects looking at lymphoma.
- All stats below are for myeloma and plasmacytoma (which are grouped together in statistics collected by HMRN).
- Myeloma is a type of blood cancer that affects plasma cells – a type of white blood cell which produces antibodies to fight infection.
- Around 4,200 people get myeloma every year – more than 11 people every day. Myeloma makes up 11.3% of all haematological malignancies.
- 44% of people diagnosed with myeloma survive to five years.
- Myeloma is the biggest blood cancer killer – in part because until recently there were few treatment options available for myeloma, as our understanding of what caused it was poor.
- We have three clinical trials looking into better treatments for myeloma.
- We fund 17 research projects looking at myeloma.
Other blood cancers
- Around 13,200 people are diagnosed with other rare forms of blood cancers and related conditions in the UK every year.
- The main two types of other blood cancer are myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). These conditions cause normal blood cell production to stop, so that people are left with insufficient healthy, functioning blood cells in their system.
- 79% of people with other blood cancers survive to five years.
- We have five clinical trials looking into better treatments for MDS and MPN. We have five looking into transplants.
- We fund 24 research projects looking at MDS and MPN. We fund 12 projects looking into transplants and 20 looking at basic blood cancer research.