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Blood cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma affect the blood, bone marrow and lymphatic system. In most blood cancers, normal blood cell development is interrupted by uncontrolled growth of abnormal blood cells. The abnormal blood cells can prevent blood from fighting off infection or preventing uncontrolled bleeding. Blood cancers are thought to arise principally as a consequence of random aberrations, with relatively minor contributions from defined behavioural/environmental factors or known genetic causes.  They can affect people of all ages and around 30,000 people are diagnosed with a blood cancer in the UK every year, accounting for around 1 in 10 cancer diagnoses in the UK.

Although there are over 130 types of blood cancer, there are three main types: leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Some types are more common than others:

  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is the sixth most common cancer in the UK
  • Leukaemia is the eleventh most common cancer in the UK, and the most common form of cancer in children
  • Other types of blood cancer – such as myeloma – are less common[1]


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